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Clearing up the confusion about the Penguins’ ‘Ice Crew’

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OK, so a lot of the dear readers need to calm down about the Penguins plan for an “Ice Crew” for the first season at Consol Energy Center. Actually, a better suggestion is for dear readers to actually read what the Penguins are planning; because judging from some comments on this site and others, not to mention a couple of dozen e-mails on the subject, I am convinced a minority of fans are taking a stance against something that will not exist.

First, a chance for everybody to get on the same page: http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=534094&navid=DL|PIT|home

That is the link to the official Penguins media release pertaining to the “Ice Crew,” and the first sentence leaves no room for misinterpretation. The “Ice Crew” will be on skates, yes, but this is not a “dance team,” as some have suggested to me. Also, this is not the Penguins trying to sell sexiness with “Ice Girls,” as an alarming number of emails to come my way have indicated. Again, the first sentence makes clear that this “Ice Crew” will be “a team of energetic girls and guys who will help clean the ice, interact with fans and take part in other promotional activities.”

A common complaint made to me is that the Penguins don’t need an “Ice Crew” because home games are always sell outs. I presume these suggestions to mean that the local club doesn’t need to follow the lead of some markets that struggle to sell tickets, and that Pittsburghers don’t want the equivalent of scantily-clad hockey cheerleaders on skates. If that is the misconception about the proposed “Ice Crew,” perhaps these points will help eliminate the concerns of fans:

• The concept of an ice crew is not new, though the Penguins are attempting to update the concept. Still, for as long as NHL games were played at the old Civic Arena, or any arena in any city, there has existed a crew of people to clean the ice. At the Civic Arena that crew consisted of arena workers, mostly middle-aged men that walked onto the surface with shovels and buckets twice each period. Those men wore t-shirts, slacks and rubber-soled shoes.

• There are ice crews in some NHL cities that consist of attractive young women wearing revealing outfits and skates, and they do the job of cleaning the ice. Markets such as Tampa Bay, South Florida and Dallas come to mind, though I am sure there are others that I cannot recall. The Penguins “Ice Crew” will look nothing like that.  This “Ice Crew” will consist of younger girls and boys, and they’ll be wearing skates and track suits.

I suspect the problem with the way the “Ice Crew” has been received is that many in the “we don’t want it” camp are aware of the facts. I’ve been sent links to sites on message boards with discussions about so-called Penguisn Cheerleaders, and I admit to rolling my eyes. Nowhere in the release was the world “cheerleader” mentioned. Again, the details and duties of the “Ice Crew” are made crystal clear, but for those that haven’t read the release — well, give it a look over before forming a conclusion:

Penguins To Hold Auditions For Skating “Ice Crew”

Friday, 07.09.2010 / 11:33 AM / News
Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins will introduce a skating “Ice Crew” for the 2010-11 season – a team of energetic girls and guys who will help clean the ice, interact with fans and take part in other promotional activities.

Putting the crew on skates will add a new level of excitement to the Penguins’ game presentation as the team enters a new era at CONSOL Energy Center.

“We’ll be looking for energy, athleticism and passion for the Penguins,” said James Santilli, the team’s vice president of marketing. “We think it’s a great way for fans to get even more involved with Penguins hockey and help make games at CONSOL Energy Center an even greater entertainment experience.”

The first set of auditions for the Ice Crew will be for girls 18 and older who will skate and help clean the ice during TV timeouts. The auditions will be held at Iceoplex at Southpointe on the weekend of July 31-Aug. 1 and will include interviews and skating.

Preliminary auditions for girls will be held Saturday, July 31 from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and final auditions will be Sunday, Aug. 1. Applicants 18 and older with skating experience or the desire to learn are encouraged to complete an online application at www.pittsburghpenguins.com/icecrew.

Prep classes will be held Wednesday, July 28 from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Friday, July 30 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Iceoplex at Southpointe. Prep classes will give participants an opportunity to meet with the Ice Crew coordinator and gain a better understanding of the audition process.

Auditions for guys will be held at a later date.

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

 
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