GLENDALE AZ - OCTOBER 16: Fans of the Phoenix Coyotes cheer during the NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena on October16 2010 in Glendale Arizona. The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Last year, Phoenix Coyotes fans created an online stir with the "Throw The Snake" meme. With a rematch against the Detroit Red Wings around the corner, will fans revive the call to toss rubber snake on to the ice?
It's against the rules for fans to throw objects on the ice. That's a wide ranging definition of "objects," from beer cups to plastic rats -- in fact, it's pretty much anything that's not a hat after a player's third goal. Here's how the NHL puts it:
63.4 Objects Thrown on the Ice - In the event that objects are thrown on the ice that interfere with the progress of the game, the Referee shall blow the whistle and stop the play and the puck shall be faced-off at a face-off spot in the zone nearest to the spot where play is stopped. When objects are thrown on the ice during a stoppage in play, including after the scoring of a goal, the Referee shall have announced over the public address system that any further occurrences will result in a bench minor penalty being assessed to the home Team.
And yes, that does include rubber snakes. But for two wacky weeks a year ago, the magical interwebs were abuzz with the Throw The Snake movement.
If you missed it last year -- or if you just forgot, as lots o' stuff does happen in a one-year span -- it started out as a joke between SB Nation blogger pals Pension Plan Puppets and Five For Howling. More specifically, Chemmy at PPP joked on Twitter that FFH's Travis Hair should throw a snake on the ice to counter the Detroit Red Wings tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice.
The funny thing about Twitter is that people can catch on to a meme really fast. #ThrowTheSnake soon exploded, and the Phoenix Coyotes put out an official statement saying that anyone throwing rubber snakes (or hell, live snakes) on to the ice would get ejected from the game. Despite the buzz around the meme in the local media, Fox Sports Arizona did its best to excise such activity from camera shots.
Fast-forward one year and it's deja vu all over again. You've got the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings, the Coyotes ownership is still in limbo, and the team from the desert still has plenty of doubters about its "Shane Doan, Ilya Bryzgalov, and a bunch of scrubs" roster. Can lightning -- erm, snake throwing -- strike twice?
Five For Howling hasn't posted much about it, at least not yet. However, when asked via email, Travis Hair was a little more direct about the Twitter chatter:
It's still just #ThrowtheSnake and there's not so much an organization of it as a loosely associated group of people that may or may not throw snakes. Just search for the hashtag and there's a decent amount of chatter for it.
A quick search on Twitter for #Throwthesnake shows that talk about reviving the meme is still just that. As Travis noted, it's just a little bit of chatter but no one's quite committed to it.
Still, for a team facing ownership uncertainty after two seasons, a viral fan movement that proved popular last year couldn't hurt. Healthy fan interest -- and a playoff victory -- can show what the franchise would look like with consistent on-ice success and off-ice stability. To unify fans, even with something as silly as throwing rubber snakes, well, what's the harm in that?
Or as Twitter user Marc Fredrick put it: "This year we follow through and actually #throwthesnake. What are they gonna do, relocate us?"