Like so many other recent tributes to the Humboldt Broncos, it began with a single text message.
“Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it…wherever they are,” read a text received by TSN radio personality Brian Munz. Munz, who was born in Humboldt, said the original sender was a high school friend.
Attached to the text was a photo of a single Reebok hockey stick on the friend’s front step.
After receiving the text, Munz screenshotted it and sent it out to his 10,500 Twitter followers.
Since then, the hashtag #putyoursticksout has gone global. Hockey fans from all ten Canadian provinces and locales as far away as Texas, Kentucky, Australia, the United Kingdom and Indonesia have posted similar photos. The locations may be different, but the idea is the same – leaving hockey sticks outside, ready for a deceased Broncos player, wherever they may be, to grab for a shinny game in the cosmos.
According to analytics website Keyhole, more than 5.5 million individual Twitter users have seen the #putyoursticksout tweets as of Monday afternoon. Hundreds of individual pictures, all showing sticks ready to be grabbed for a game, have been posted online.
The campaign has similarities to a 2014 campaign in Australia. After cricket player Phillip Hughes was killed after being hit with a bouncing ball, fans of the sport from across the globe paid tribute by laying their cricket bats out. The idea, also born out of a tragedy, has a striking resemblance to the #putyoursticksout campaign.
Munz rode the Broncos’ bus for five seasons as their radio play-by-play broadcaster, was hit hard by last week’s bus crash. Fifteen people died in the accident, all of whom played, coached or worked with the team.
One of the victims, Tyler Bieber, was the Broncos’ current play-by-play announcer.