The NHL is very popular, yes, but it is not a mainstream league. It never dominates the national sports landscape the way the NFL or NBA does, and there are many major American cities where ice hockey is less important than field hockey.
So really, anything — and I mean anything — that leads to publicity for the NHL should be welcomed with open arms by Gary Bettman and the rest of his league. But, not surprisingly, the league just doesn’t see thigns that way.
The league has asked the two Vancouver Canucks fans who dress up in green body suits and engage in wild antics next to the visitor’s penalty box to cut down on their act, according to The Canadian Press. The duo has been asked to “stop touching the glass and doing handstands,” the report says.
While the act, performed by fans known only as Sully and Force, may be a bit odd, it’s been the rare instance in which the league has garnered national attention for a positive reason. It wasn’t a lockout, it wasn’t a Todd Bertuzzi sucker punch and it wasn’t a bankrupt franchise in the middle of the desert. It was, simply, a couple of guys being funny.
But nope, not on Bettman’s watch. The league said a complaint was filed, so it quickly acted upon it, imposing a ban on two people from touching the glass, an “action” that just about every fan in the first few rows is still presumably allowed to do. And the handstand ban? If that’s not the most bizarre decree in the history of mankind, then I’m not sure what is.
Not to worry, though. There may be some fan outrage that the league wants to crack down on fun, but generally, with people as creative and funny as these two, they tend to come up with creative solutions to avoid violating any sanctions. We’ll find out Saturday night, when the Canucks return home for Game 5 against Nashville.
Until then, we’ll always have YouTube.