It's been a little while since we had a better know a blogger here, but it's back this week with something very timely. The NHL playoffs started this week and one of the biggest surprise teams in the league in 2009-2010 has been the Phoenix Coyotes. The team has gone from the brink of moving to a different city to replacing the greatest player of all time as a coach to nearly finishing first in the outstanding Western Conference.
Travis Hair has been the writer at Five for Howling and has followed his Coyotes for years. He's in heaven right now. He also helped create a sensation in Phoenix regarding throwing rubber snakes on the ice in response to the Detroit Red Wings tradition of throwing octopus on the ice during the playoffs. So without further ado, let's get to know Travis Hair.
Tyler Bleszinski: Tell me how you came to SB Nation.
Travis Hair: Well Frank D was helping run the SBN Hockey sites back in the day when we only had maybe 7 or 8 hockey sites. He approached my friend Monique who runs the always good coyoteshipcheck.com about coming on board. I was writing there at the time just doing gamedays and such and she decided she wanted to keep running her own site, but suggested I might want to do it and the rest is history.
Bleszinski: What has the experience been like being a part of SB Nation?
Hair: It's been great. For the longest time I was one of the smaller sites in the hockey group, but even at the beginning I was getting calls from AP reporters, news outlets and such because of my place here on SBNation. I doubt any of that happens without the network. Everyone here has been great from the tech team to the other bloggers and it's almost always fun.
Bleszinski: How did you come to be a Coyotes fan?
Hair: Well I was a fan of the IHL Phoenix Roadrunners when I was younger. When the Coyotes came to town they pretty much pushed them out, but I adopted the Coyotes as my team right away. I didn't always get to go to the games when I was younger, but I watched on TV when I could. After I got back from College in Tucson (Go Wildcats!) in 2004 is when I really became a hardcore fan of the team. I started playing hockey, watching hockey, going to games. I just love the sport even though I was raised in Arizona.
Bleszinski: Who is your favorite Coyote of all-time and who is your current favorite and why?
Hair: Same answer for both: Shane Doan. No Doubt. If you watched Game 1 against Detroit you'll know why. Whatever needs to be done, whatever messages need to be sent, he's the captain and he goes out and makes it happen. Even if he doesn't always have the scoring touch he goes out and grinds down the other team, gets in front of the net, makes things happen for other players. There's nothing he won't do for the team on the ice. Off the ice he's about the nicest guy there is. At fan events he'll just keep talking and talking to fans about absolutely anything.
Bleszinski: What's your favorite moment following the team?
Hair: I'd be lying if I didn't say it was Wednesday night. My first playoff game. First play off win. It was an electric atmosphere inside, outside everywhere. I mean this whole season has been a dream season after the summer we had, but that's the best so far. I expect each one to just top the next though.
Bleszinski: You had to have experienced the lowest of lows before the season began thinking you might be losing the team and now with the game one win against the Red Wings and the team looking definite to stay, it has to have been a new high. Talk about the yo-yo of emotions you've been through this year.
Hair: It really has been a yo-yo. There were certainly times during the summer where I didn't really know why I was doing this anymore. It was like yelling into a void. It didn't matter how much we insisted that things could work here, or how good we thought the team could be. People didn't want to listen. When the actual season started it was exciting, but at the same time the arena was hlaf empty, it was depressing, but the team just kept playing better and better, attendance went up and we're selling out games toward the end of the season and in the playoffs. With HOME ICE in the Playoffs. No one saw this coming and it's just been outstanding.
Bleszinski: You also did something unique in starting the throw the snake movement. Talk about how that started.
Hair: Well fellow blogger and insane person, Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets was pitching ideas to me about what kinds of things Coyote fans could do to get some attention, or just have a hell of a lot of fun in this playoff run. Somewhere along the line we talked about throwing snakes and he threw the idea up on twitter encouraging people to basically peer pressure me into throwing a snake on the ice at the game. From there it just went crazy. All his followers started retweeting it, their followers retweeted it. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy saw it and pitched it which got a ton more people involved. Then Canadian Media on twitter saw it too. We got on one tv broadcast as a message, we had a radio interview it was nuts. I even tried to get the team on board, but was pretty flatly rejected. But the cat, errr, snake was out of the bag and fans were going to do it. We had Throw the snake shirts, throw the snake signs, and rubber snake sightings in the stands. There were about a dozen or so that made it during and after the game on Wednesday which got the site and myself along with Chemmy a mention on CBC's iDesk during intermission. It was just a crazy thing that started off with one joke. It's been insane to say the least.
Bleszinski: What can people expect from the community at Five for Howling?
Hair: Well, we're still developing an identity, but for all the fans that have been here through this whole mess you'll find knowledgeable hockey fans that will fight tooth and nail for the team and against those that attack it. We're generally really nice though and just want to have fun with people that like hockey. Oh, and you can expect lots of Leaf fans. Because they like me.
Bleszinski: Tell me something about yourself that your readers and community would be surprised to find out.
Hair: That's a hard one, mostly because I've met a lot of my local people and I'm pretty open about myself. I mean maybe that I was a Studio Art major in college (Painting and Printmaking) and that I love to cook. Baking especially is fun. My Chocolate chip cookies are better than yours :P
Bleszinski: Thanks so much for your time.
Hair: No problem.