Performing without a net


ZAMBONI® ice resurfacer driving and ice maintaining in general is not a simple task, in fact it is more of an art than anything else. Also, it is not something that is done by just one person. It takes a crew of workers to the job. Walt, did not work alone, he was simply the most visible person in the crew. As a result, when he did make a mistake, which was very rare, he was often teased. In the case of the photo seen here, he had a slight encounter with the kick-boards and later found his ZAMBONI® ice resurfacer tagged with a "Caution Crazy Driver" sign.


By the time that the Gears were coming to the end of their reign in the Tri Cities area, Walt had become such a part of the Gears game experience, the he was even featured as an advertising tool for the Holiday Inn's restaurant. Seen here as it appeared in the October 10, 1981 Saginaw Gears program, the ad asks "Guess who's coming to Holiday Inn West for dinner?" and then shows Walt apparently driving the ice resurfacing machine out of the page as if using it to get to the restaurant. The ad goes on to say "Walt agrees...Best Sunday brunch in town!" and further states "Plenty of parking space, even for Zamboni's!" (sic). In fact... he actually did eat there... because he got a discount. My mom recently relayed a story that on occasion, her and dad would be driving through town and they'd pull up to a stop light and someone in the next car would look over and she could read their lips as they exclaimed "Look! There's Walt the Zamboni driver!" Dad got a real kick out of that.


For the 1978 IHL All-Star game, which was hosted by Saginaw, the Gears could not have their ZAMBONI® driver resurfacing in work cloths. So, the team rented a nice tuxedo for Walt to wear. Thus he swapped in his trade-mark blue jeans and jacket for the black tie look for just one night. As he rolled the ZAMBONI® out onto the ice for his first refinish he was greeted with spontaneous whistles and applause. With that Walt stopped the machine at center ice, stood up, took a bow in toward all four corners of the arena, and then went on with making another of his perfect sheets of ice.

No comments: