According to a report from the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Maple Leafs are stepping up their in-arena entertainment. Or bringing it down a notch, depending on how you look at things. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Air Canada Centre has brought in ice girls.
What is an Ice Girl?
An ice girl is a uniformed female who’s job is to come out during certain breaks in play to shovel shavings of ice off the surface. Well, in official terms.
Do they serve a hockey purpose?
To be honest, not really. It really doesn’t make a difference to the quality of the playing surface to remove these ice shavings. In outdoor situations, sure (due to the temperatures messing with the surface, and actual snow build up), but not in any professional quality indoor arena. In fact, it’s a detriment in some cases – many goalies intentionally “snow up” their creases. Their purpose is fan driven.
Is this good or bad?
It all depends on who you talk to, but I think this is a step in the wrong direction. I’ve always felt that the “ice girl” role was a form of objectification, though I saw the purpose it served in developing hockey markets. If you could entertain non-hockey fans for long enough to make them appreciate the game, that’s a retained customer.
The Toronto Maple Leafs absolutely do not have this problem. So you’ve got a bunch of fans who apparently can’t wait three hours to ogle a woman? Great. Let them not come back. For every one that leaves, there’s 100 other Leafs fans that are willing to take their place. It’s a cheap form of entertainment, completely unrelated to the game, that doesn’t actually have any potential gain for a team that fills its building every night.
I admire that the current ownership and upper management on the business side wants to improve fan experience across all MLSE properties. Such a commitment is commendable and they deserve a lot of credit for it. But this just feels cheap and irrelevant to the product.
It’s also also seems a bit demeaning for the girls involved (10 hockey players and 2 figure skaters); but that’s ultimately my own personal perspective, and I’m sure that if they’re committing to the job they don’t feel the same way, and all power to them.
Whether their uniforms are closer to the ones MLSE already hires for the Marlies (see above) or the hyper-revealing ensembles that Dallas, Chicago, Washington and other team’s crews wear remains to be seen.