The Ice Cleaners

from Ben Shpigel of the New York Times,

Chris Jennings glanced up at the video board at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia during a Flyers game last month, then at the players slicing along his ice and back up at the video board. Standing by the Zamboni gate, Jennings turned and called out to the eight men and four women behind him.

“Next whistle,” he said.

Jennings is the arena’s head ice technician, an exacting boss who considers his domain less a democracy than a dictatorship. At his command, his crew grabbed the shovels that were leaning against a wall and, when the doors opened, skated out to perform one of the more essential, if underappreciated, tasks at an N.H.L. game.

The Flyers’ ice crew, like others around the league, must repeatedly clear the entire 200-foot-by-85-foot ice surface of the ice shavings that accumulate during a game. Up and down the ice they go, a synchronized cavalcade that complements the between-periods resurfacing efforts of the Zamboni, the more heralded symbol of ice preparation, to facilitate puck movement and maintain the quality of play.

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