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They've become as synonymous with Vancouver Canucks home games as blue sweaters and Swedish twins: The Green Men, merry pranksters of the penalty box, mocking opposing players as they sit in the sin bin with props, pantomimes and acrobatic taunts.Against the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they used a cardboard cutout of Vince Vaughn, Chicago fan, to mock Duncan Keith; in Round 2 against the Nashville Predators, they moved on to Carrie Underwood, wife of Preds center Mike Fisher.While their prop comedy is safe, it turns out someone in the NHL isn't a fan of their other antics. The league has informed the Green Men-who go by the monikers Force and Sully-that they're no longer allowed to touch the penalty box glass or perform handstands to distract the visiting team's players.
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"It's a liability thing," Sully told us by phone on Monday. "Even though I've been doing them for a year and a half, and I'm sort of an expert on them."Sully said that a Canucks official informed them of the crackdown, passing along the edict from the NHL. "The Canucks have our backs. The NHL didn't want to call us personally, so they had the Canucks do it for them."The Green Men believe it's the Nashville Predators, the Canucks' foes in the Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference semifinals, that ordered the ban on certain antics. Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun reports that "a Predators spokesman denied any complaint was lodged."
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The Green Men, who are traveling to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 against the Predators, don't plan on targeting the NHL in their newest taunts."I don't know if we can go after the man," said Sully. "We're going to adhere to what the league is saying. But we're not going to shut it down completely."
While the Green Men modulate their routine, their fans in Vancouver have stepped up with "Save The Green Men" campaigns even as one prominent Canadian broadcaster celebrates their restrictions.