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


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:|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

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.


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.


  1. Mike says:

    The Canadiens’ “ice crew” isn’t a “younger” group. They’re a bunch of guys in their 40s who are a part of the arena operations.

  2. #4Orrfan says:

    I previously posted that I hoped the Penguins would use restraint choosing their new crew but I hadn’t yet read the requirements for the job. Now I have and to this female fan the requirements for female “Ice Crew” are an insult.

    From the Pens web site –
    “What does it take to become a Pittsburgh Penguins Ice Crew member?

    * Skating or figure skating technique
    * Ability to skate in hockey skates
    * Striking appearance
    * Physically fit (lean & toned)
    * Energetic and outgoing personality
    * Poise
    * Communication skills
    * Hockey knowledge”

    On the application there is a question about “modeling” experience and I can’t help but notice that on this list hockey knowledge is last.

    “How should I wear my hair, make-up, and nails for auditions?
    -Find a hairstyle that compliments your natural beauty. Hair needs to be styled and worn all down. Make-up should be tasteful – wear makeup that flatters you. Nails should be painted a French manicure or a neutral shade of polish.”

    “What should I wear to the Preliminary & Final auditions?
    -Applicants must wear a midriff bearing top (crop/bra top), yoga/dance pants…”

    If the slim and toned, naturally beautiful, tastefully made up with hair all down applicants MUST be in a midriff baring bra tops yet the Penguins aren’t “trying to sell sexiness with “Ice Girls,” they must be making sure they’ll fit inside those hard to get the right size track suits. Riiight.

    Many of us have been to other arenas and we’ve seen the ice girls. They are like other pro cheerleaders i.e. primarily side show T & A in varying states of undress. Only secondarily do they wave pom poms, dance, shovel ice or throw T-shirts. The application lets you in on what “talents” the sports team is truly seeking.

    For a team that just launched a charitable foundation focusing on youth it seems strange to have to remind them that half of youth are girls and this is a message girls do not need.

    Epic fail Pens.

  3. Tracey says:

    I’m curious…will there be an equal ratio of male & female ice crew members? Will they be wearing the same attire? I’m hoping the reports of the requested female audition attire are false. Skates & track suits wasn’t what I was told. It may also have been helpful if the first auditions were for male crew members…the audition article list those as a partial line afterthought. I absolutely understand the fans opposition to what many feel is an unnecessary addition. The Penguins have gotten by just fine without the “Hockey cheerleaders” they already have cheerleaders in the form of fans! Yes, cheerleaders…look up the description of a cheerleader & the description given for the ice crew members…what exactly is the differece? The ice crew won’t be forming a pyramid? And from all the post & e-mails on the subject i’ve recieved from fellow Pens fans I definately wouldn’t call it a minority that’s opposed to the addition. Fan relations is suppose to be a top priority for the organization so, I think maybe they should be taking their opinions into some consideration. Its sad that instead of focusing on the upcoming prospect camp & new arena…the top topic of the press & fans is the addition of an “Ice Crew”.
    Actually, it would be nice to be discussing the long overdo retiring Jagr’s #68 as part of the opening ceremonies…I know wishful thinking.

  4. Ktnol says:

    If the Penguins were looking to avoid “confusion” and “misconceptions,” they were undermined from the start by their own website/application. Read on down the page and look through the FAQs. If the girls are going to be wearing track suits as their uniform, why have them audition in crop/bra tops and tight pants like they’re trying out for A Chorus Line? It says that there are no height or weight requirements, but that one has to be “lean and toned.” Why would being “lean and toned” matter so much if one is wearing a track suit? And going so far as to tell them what sort of nail polish and manicure they need to have? Really? Wow, I wasn’t aware that French tips/manicures made people better at shoveling snow…or that wearing, say, black and gold polish to show team spirit would in fact inhibit their interaction with the fans.

    The bottom line is, what you and they say these girls are supposed to be seems to conflict with the guidelines and requirements that they themselves lay out. It all comes across as going straight into the usual stereotypical eye-candy BS. Will the guys’ application say “Show up shirtless”?

    On top of this, what’s going to happen with the aforementioned middle-aged men in t-shirts and rubber-soled shoes? Are they losing their jobs in all of this, or will they still be part of the arena crew in some other capacity?

    I have nothing inherently against ice girls/guys and their energetic entertainment and fan interaction (as long as it doesn’t become a distraction from the reason we’re all there). I just want it to be appropriate to the organization and what it has represented for all these years. If this (what seems to be another level “up” from the Pens Patrol) wasn’t necessary at Mellon Arena, why feel the need to do it at the CEC?

  5. disappointed pensfan says:

    It wasn’t so much what the release said, (because I do believe people read it given the number of quotes that cited it)…it was when they looked over the back up documentation..i.e. the application, that seemed to contradict the release. First, using “girls” for women over 18 is sexists. Secondly, the “application instructions” for the interview that included “wearing a sports bra or bare stomach” having “flattering makeup applied” “hair down and styled” and even the type of nail polish to be worn all seems to place emphasis on “skimpy clad cheerleader” and less on “energy, athleticism and passion for the Penguins.”

    If indeed you are correct and this is all a misunderstanding, it will be interesting to read the instructions for the “tryout dress code” for the men..ummm…boys over 18 who apply.

    Finally, if it is all a misunderstanding, the fact that the Pens PR dept did not act immediately to clarify the matter is also disappointing.

  6. Allen says:

    …From the FAQ’s of the penguins application wedsite:

    “What should I wear to the Preliminary & Final auditions?
    Applicants must wear a midriff bearing top (crop/bra top), yoga/dance pants, HOCKEY skates (if you don’t own them, you will be able to rent hockey skates), jacket and athletic shoes.”

    Your right… “a midriff bearing top (crop/bra top)” does not imply the Pengiuns are trying to sell sexiness. I have to wonder what the guys will have to wear for their auditions.

  7. Allen says:

    I meant ‘You’re right…’ sorry for the spelling error.

  8. espo33 says:

    The NYI also have a bunch of girls skating around…

  9. Lynn Smith says:

    Rob, we eagerly await your reply to those who took the time to look at the FAQs and other materials for the auditions. The release that you quoted sounds innocuous, but the other materials seem to confirm people’s worst suspicions about the Penguins’ motives. In fact, when you read the FAQ, the whole idea appears to be a rare–and rather sexist–misstep for an organization whose fan relations are excellent. Your thoughts?

  10. Tina says:

    Well, I personally preferred the 40 something year old men, in t-shirts and beer bellies in their black slacks and rubber soled shoes. In fact I think that the whole CEC is too flashy. I’m really, we are the Steel City. It should be a rectangular building with exposed steel beams and corrugated steel siding. In fact, it shouldn’t be painted either. It should be allowed to develop that corroded rusty brown finish that says, “Hey, we’re the capital of the Rust Belt of America and we’re proud of it!”

    Seriously people! Everything we develop moves toward a more aesthetically pleasing image. Our newest sponsor is an energy company, NOT Bethlehem Steel. We have luxury boxes and food courts, not bleacher seating and filthy concession stands. The new score board and video system is state of the art, not a gray scale dot matrix Bore-o-Tron.

    I WANT my daughters and sons to aspire to be athletic, energetic, and a tone six pack. Why would encourage them to NOT care about their appearance? What, you don’t care about YOUR appearance? If the Pens’ “Ice Crew” promotes promiscuous behavior or presents an image of degradation of any person, I’m with you in the outrage. But if they’re trying to provide an entertaining environment and present an image of athleticism, energy, and youthful exuberance for the sport of hockey, then I’m sorry, but I’m all for it.

    Stop hating on someone just because they are blessed with good looks and an athletic body. I can guarantee that a majority of the people complaining about this proposed “Ice Crew” are fans of the Twilight series and NOT because they are avid followers of SciFi and vampire mythology. Young, attractive, people who have a zest for life energize us to feel younger ourselves. Just go with it and enjoy everything that comes with this new era in Penguins hockey.

    P.S. Retire Jagr’s number, please. Thank you.

  11. Frank says:

    I’ve read the job requirements for this dopey idea and here’s my “conclusion”…

    Just hire a professional crew, clean the damn ice and play hockey. I find the whole concept to be cheesy, cheap and idiotic. I can only speak for myself, but I attend games in order to watch the actual game, not for the corny gimmicks.

    I know, it’s a crazy concept.

  12. Kathy says:

    Personally, I like the middle aged men (and there is a woman) in black shoes that clean the ice. The ice staff is as much a part of the Penguins experience as everything else. For those of us who are there EVERY GAME, those people are like family. We notice when they are gone. The Pens Patrol started out with this same “cheerleader” mentality and eventually the nearly faded from view. They add nothing to a hockey experience–and isn’t this about going to see a hockey game??? The fans do not like the scantily clad women (girls over 18 are women-you should hear the remarks made by fans when they are close by. The Pens need to rethink this. I, as a female hockey fan (and season ticket holder), am insulted.

  13. john says:

    yea and i like how at the bottom is says……guys tryouts to be announced at a later date, your right does sound like an afterthought, lets face it they are gonna hire some ditsy chicks who know nothing about hockey and can barely skate and will help them learn to skate better, why cant they just have the pens patrol girls like they had at mellon arena? clearly this decision was a mistake

  14. Donna says:

    Thats what they have to wear to the audition. Thats not what they will be wearing on the ice. Dont you know how to read? They will be wearing track suits. Is your self esteem so low that you feel threatened by a bunch of pretty girls out on the ice? Dont like it, dont go to the game. I’m sure there are many people who would love to have your tickets.

  15. Manacle77 says:

    What a disappointment. I was actually looking forward to some scantily-clad hockey cheerleaders on ice! If that’s what is considered sexism, so be it.

  16. Brittany says:

    I’m sorry, reading the applicant on the site…Are you sure you didn’t post the Hooter’s application by mistake?

  17. Hanson_Bro1 says:

    They should hire ex women hockey players. We are a tough city with a tough team and there would be a 50/50 chance that someone might drop the gloves. It would brings a whole new meaning to ice cleaning!

  18. jonathan says:

    The Columbus Blue Jackets have an ice crew like this. It really benefits young kids most, who aren’t necessarily held on seat’s edge throughout the 20 minutes of hockey. In between periods when those guys and gals skate out there, athletic and respectably dressed, throwing t-shirts or playing some silly game with 2 contestants, the younger kids love it. So what if the dudes are wearing form fitting shirts and the girls show a little stomach. Lighten up. People work hard to look good. If the Pens want to upgrade from the beer league crew and give the intermissions and tv time-outs a little flair, I’m all for it. Giggity.

  19. espo33 says:

    Rob-Read your article on the camp this week and players to watch. Do you have the complete list of players coming to camp?

  20. jason says:

    this is a great thing for the penguins. i am a season ticket holder who hasn’t missed a home game in 3 seasons and i always watch the ice crew from my front row F level seats. If you do watch the ice crew and have attended away games in foreign cities you know how poor the ice crew at mellon arena was. the group at mellon is very old and many are overweight and not good at their jobs. they waddle gingerly onto the ice and aren’t do not do nearly as good a job as younger crews that skate to clean the ice. skating crews can go much faster and do a much better jobs. in other arenas the younger crews can clean the ice from blue line to the boards behind the goal. at the mellon the current crew struggles to get the goal crease and around the boards done.

    its about time the pens change to a better ice crew who can ultimately do a much better job. just think about it – no matter what a skating crew will do better than a bunch of middle aged people walking onto the ice in gym shoes.

  21. Zoë Hayden says:

    Was going to come here to complain about the minimal research that obviously went into writing this blog on your part, Mr. Rossi, but several of your readers already beat me to it.

    Gotta second this: “For a team that just launched a charitable foundation focusing on youth it seems strange to have to remind them that half of youth are girls and this is a message girls do not need.”

    I seriously doubt this ice crew thing is going to cause the apocalypse or ruin anybody’s life, but it definitely lowers the “classy” factor of the Pens organization, and will make my personal experience at the new Consol Energy Center a great deal less pure.

  22. Suz says:

    I agree with Frank. Just git ‘er done with a professional crew who knows how to do the job.

    Will the Ice Crew positions be union jobs?

  23. Doreen says:

    Rossi: You’re too good of a journalist to pee on my leg and try to convince me it’s raining!!

  24. espo33 says:

    jason-this kids will be better at the job? I think the bad ice at the Mellon is because of the machines they have know and the arena itself. I don’t think it has anything to do with crews that you think are overweight.

    Rossi-no list of who is at camp?

  25. Pitts says:

    #4Orrfan — would rather have a bunch of overweight, can’t skate hockey-bunnies out there? These people need to look good or it would be a waste of marketing dollars. Plus, the actual work involved would require someone of at least average physical shape anyway.

    All you cry-babies are just being self-righteous and pompous. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring physically fit younger people to clean the ice between work stoppages. Christ – do we still live in the dark ages here? This is such a non-starter it is comical that it causes such uproar with the fans.

  26. James says:

    I applaud the Penguins for trying new and different things. And I welcome the Ice Crew.

    Change is good people. Honestly, some of you would need to be dragged kicking and screaming into modern times.

    They are auditioning for an athletic ice crew, not strippers. Lets go Pens

  27. jason says:

    any crew on skates will do a better and more efficient job. have you watched crews at away arenas while attending an away game? compare that to the crew at mellon last year. if you’ve seen that crew in action compared to away crews you know how much worse than wear. by default any ice crew on skates will literally skate circles around a crew without them.

    who do you think will do a better job a crew on skates or a group of people 40 years plus in tennis shoes attempting to clean the ice? its a no-brainer.

  28. ed says:

    jason is correct. i attended a game in columbus this past season and noticed that their crew of kids on skates covered a lot more of the ice surface during breaks then our arena crew in shoes. indeed a no brainer.

  29. Bobby O says:

    Ed, Jason – There are a lot of 40-year old men who can also skate you know. You don’t have to be a figure skating model to clean the ice. Just ask Bill Guerin.

    Besides, they’re not just going to clean the ice, they’ll come out during stoppages and fire t-shirts into the crowds and other “cheerleader” pep-squad related non-sense. It’s cheese, plain and simple and I don’t like it at baseball and football games either.

    The Pens shouldn’t need any more “on-ice” marketing than the game, the players and the JumboTron can’t already provide. If I already bought the ticket and I’m at the game already, how is staring at a hot chick through netting and a sheet of glass supposed to better my game experience? I have no problem with hot girls skating around in tight outfits, but unless I can get a lap dance, they should just stay at home or better yet, get a job at Hooters, where their natural talents would be better appreciated.

    The Pens had a better marketing gimick with Alyonka Larinov but decided they didn’t need her anymore. I guess an attactive girl who actual “knows” something about the game is a turn off. Nope, they need glorified strippers in tight latex (it won’t be track suits trust me, I’ve been to the Flyers home games) to make my nachos taste better. Good plan. I wasn’t going to get in line for season tickets but this seals the deal.

    The only reason Rob is defending this is because he might actually have an opportunity to have one of these girls acknowledge him on his way to the locker room.

  30. david wallowicz says:

    Call me crazy but skating creates snow and ice shavings, correct? Why not continue to have people wearing non-slip shoes clean the ice? I don’t care if it’s the same crew from Mellon Arena or the gals from the Ford Modeling Agency, if the job is to remove the excess snow, why would potentially create more by having the cleanup crew wear skates?

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