What do a scathing national media expose, a bunch of guys skating around in sweatsuits, and the lusty boos of angry Flyers fans all have in common? They are all part of the fascinating saga of the Flyers Ice Girls.
On June 23 the Flyers will once again hold auditions for their Ice Girls. And just what exactly are ice girls? They might best be described as being just like cheerleaders, only without the pom poms. And they don’t jump up and down. And they don’t do cheers. Uh, also, they skate really fast while clearing slush from the ice with snow shovels during hockey games. Someone has suggested that you might think of them as Hooters Girls on skates. You get the picture, right? But here’s the thing – were it not for the loud voice of the passionate Flyers fans, the Flyers Ice Girls may well have gone the way of the now defunct swimsuit competition in most beauty pageants.
In recent years a number of NHL clubs have had ice girls, and they have been generally well received. But the climate around them began to rapidly thaw when a blistering article called “The Freezing Hungry Lives of NHL Ice Girls” appeared in Mother Jones Magazine in June of last year. As the title indicates, this article was highly critical of the working conditions for ice girls. One young woman even likened her experience to “some kind of a torture camp”
In response, the Flyers switched from Ice Girls to Ice Guys starting with the first home pre-season game in September of 2014. Twelve dudes wearing orange and black sweatsuits skated and shoveled away during each break in the action. And each time they stepped out onto the ice they were greeted with a loud chorus of boos by the unhappy Flyers fans.
Now you can say pretty much whatever you want about the Flyers organization, but you can never say they don’t listen to their fans. In response to the negative reaction to the Ice Guys, the Flyers released the following statement:
The most passionate fans in hockey have spoken and we listened! The Philadelphia Flyers will debut a 10-member Ice Team during the Flyers’ home opener on Thursday, October 9 when they face off against the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m.
When Flyers fans voice their concerns, we listen, because they are undeniably the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports. After two preseason games evaluating the program, we’ve decided to welcome the return of the Flyers Ice Team, beginning on opening night. We’ll look to assemble a team that is fan friendly, and represents the Flyers well both on the ice and in the community.
By the way, the words “ice team” should be translated “ice girls”.
And so on October 9, 2014 the Flyers Ice Girls returned to the Wells Fargo Center, much to the delight of the majority of Flyers fans.
Now the Flyers Ice Girls prepare to begin another season. So if you are a female with good skating and slush-shoveling skills, sign up for an audition at the Flyer’s web site. And pay no attention to that “torture camp” claim!