Comets Tales: Utica's Green Men
by Don LaibleSep 25, 2015
They are the picturesque version of the word ‘superfans’. Oh, and they are green (with a dash of blue, here and there).
Let the good times begin. In a few weeks when opening night is upon the Utica Comets, and many familiar faces begin making their way through The AUD’s doors, another sign of the AHL’s 80th season officially underway will be the spotting of Green Man, and the Other Green Man.
They have become an integral ingredient to the overall Comets’ in-game experience. Heck, the best part of the shtick that they provide adjacent to the visiting team’s penalty box, they do so under the cloak of anonymity. If the Green Men were in pro wrestling, back in the day they would be billed as ‘from parts unknown’.
But, for the foreseeable future, just being green works.
The Green Man and the Other Green Man came this close to hanging up their suits for good this past spring. Had the Comets won the Calder Cup, Green Man reveals that was the intention of he and his partner in fun.
“We’re definitely coming back for more. It’s definitely the fans who motivate me to keep wearing the suit,” says Green Man, who would only reveal that he resides in Utica.
Keeping his personal information under wraps, Green Man does let it be known that he enjoys most “working” the visiting team’s penalty box. The reactions from players serving time just a few feet away from he and his partner, make his night.
“Some of the players know how to have fun with us. Having them look out at us from the corner of their eye, and smile is fun,” said Green Man.
Hockey in The AUD, through the years, have had their share of home-grown entertainers. Frankfort’s Earl Kellogg, better known as Chickenman, served up a big dose of entertainment through multiple variations of pro team’s that called The AUD home. Getting under the skin of the current AHL visitors to the Comets, have the guys in green suits coming back for more.
With good reason the Utica and Clinton (the Other Green Man) season ticket holders are who many consider tops at what they do. Both Superfans, call them mascots, cheerleaders, or any other label that is comfortable, have one goal – to have a blast.
What’s the game plan drawn up for performing at Comets’ games? Zip. According to Green Man, what you see is totally spontaneous. Walking in The AUD constitutes delivering high five after high five, to fans of all ages, ushers; anyone heading in his direction.
Being green, even protected through secrecy in public, isn’t easy. “My family is very supportive,” Green Man explains. “They’re happy when they see my picture occasionally in the newspaper.”
The Green Men have been asked one question, almost relentlessly, by fans. That is, what happens when nature calls and they are zipped up and locked into their suits?
“I don’t eat after 2:00pm or drink after 3:00pm on game days. I’m on a strict pre-game diet,” Green Man states.
Thinking back to the Comets’ inaugural game in Rochester on October 11, 2013 as the longest continual time that he was suited up, Green Man isn’t shy to bring up last spring’s quadruple overtime playoff game at The AUD.
“That was the second longest time ever in the suit. In Rochester, I was in it for 10 hours.”
With his vision impaired to an extent, Green Man recalls the first time he watched a game without the suit on. “It was like watching HDTV for the first time.”
Seeing himself in somewhat of a super hero role towards fans, and defenders of Comets hockey, having an alter ego in disguise allows for privacy when needed.
Along with the privacy offered by a green suit, for the Other Green Man, it is also a confidence builder.
“The suit takes away the shyness in me. The few who do know what I do (at Comets’ games) aren’t surprised at how ridiculous I can be.”
Like his partner, the Other Green man is a three time season ticket holder for the Comets. Mostly for fan reaction, and “messing” with the visiting players sent to the box are motivators for the Other Green Man to do his thing.
The Other Green Man echoes his partner, when telling of a strict gameday diet. There can be no room for error, to keep his work rolling. Being in his seat (or the general area, once a player is sent to the penalty box) is a requirement. What makes a night of hockey even more fulfilling for someone often seen walking on and over chairs, resting on plexiglass, and pressed against it,as if having suction cups on his hands?
Being acknowledged by the enemy of course.
Two seasons back, while skating for the Abbotsford Heat, Shane O’Brien was one AUD visitor who fell victim to Green craziness. With pride, the Other Green Man remembers the defenseman, in frustration, smashing his stick on the glass while in the box.
“He (O’Brien) was ejected from the game for that. Most of the time, there is a give and take between the players and us (Green Men).”
While a high majority of fans have been respectful towards the Green Men, combined with having a lot of fun during 60 minutes of Comets hockey, the Other Green Man concedes that what he’s doing now can’t go on forever. Like his partner, endearing himself to the Utica hockey public comes at a premium.
Working evenings, the Other Green Man unzips the suit, after long stretches of not eating or drinking for real world requirements. “I’m not sure when this comes to an end,” says the Other Green Man.
During last season’s all-star weekend when 15 team mascots were represented at The AUD, this, for the Other Green Guy, was the “most fun” of the season.
“How ironic. Manchester’s mascot was messing around with us, and threw me a t-shirt. I didn’t know at first what it was, but it turned out to be a Monarchs shirt,” recalls the Other Green Man.
Special events during the season also pump up the guys in Green. The Other Green Man tells of Pink the Rink Night, a fundraiser for cancer services provided locally, as a special time for him.
“I get as gaudy in pink as possible. I bring beads, and throw them into the crowd. They fans love it. I like being able to make people’s nights better.”
Canucks’ Green Men retired their suits at the end of this past season. Since 2009, Force and Sully, entertained Vancouver fans and taunted visiting teams. Out with the old, in with the new….three seasons running, in Utica.
With the season just a few weeks away, The AUD awaits the chance to formerly welcome back the Green Men.