Philadelphia Flyers and Spectrum Ice Crew ID Card From Stanley Cup Seasons (1974)
ROGER BARONE/FLYERS’ ICE CREW ID CARD: SPECTRUM ARENA (1974)
From October ’73, until May ’78, I was a member of The Spectrum’s Ice Crew. Our job was to service the ice and nets during Flyers’ games. Six men were assigned to the crew. It was a prestigious plumb awarded to the most reliable workers. More often than not, I managed the Flyers’ net, located on the west end, near section Z. It was exciting; it was fun.
Before the games and between periods, we removed the nets so the Zamboni could resurface the ice with a thin coating of water. The ice became very slippery and walking was difficult– embarrassing if you fell. Walking past the fans was fun, as they leaned over the glass, screaming for pucks, sticks and autographs. In addition to the nets, we were responsible for clearing debris from the ice after hat tricks and bad calls, replacing the herculite glass when a stick or puck hit the side of it and shattered it and fixing torn nets. On several occasions we’d have to grab our ice picks and shovels to scrape the blood that had frozen into the surface after a brawl. Most notably, the night when Dave Schultz pummeled Dale Rolfe of the New York Ranges. None of his teammates came to his aid, and for all practical purposes, the Rangers gave away the series on that night; they lost their heart.
When the Flyers’ pre-game skating sessions ended, I would gather the loose pucks, place them in my bucket and bring them to the Flyers’ bench where Flyers’ backup goalie, Bob Taylor, was usually sitting. Taylor was one of the friendliest and funniest of all the athletes I’ve ever met. When I’d walk past him in my official “game” uniform (white pants, shirt, and cap with a Flyers’ logo) , he’d call out, “Hey, Ice Cream Man, I’ll have a vanilla.” Taylor was an extraordinary human being. On most occasions, I gave the extra pucks to the fans, hanging over the glass, screaming at me. I usually gave them to kids, or the quiet and polite people often neglected. When I had the time, I’d walk up to the third level and surprise someone with a rare souvenir: a puck in the third level!
On one occasion, a young child startled me, when he held out a pen and white piece of paper, gesturing for my signature. He wanted my autograph! I was embarrassed, flushed face , tongue-tied. I looked up to his dad, standing behind him.
“I’m not anybody.”
“It’s ok, please sign it for him,” he politely said, cognizant of my embarrassment. I, then, trotted across the ice to the Flyers’ bench, where a bucket of game pucks were being iced (game pucks are kept frozen). Game pucks were white on one side with a black Flyers’ logo on it. Practice pucks were all black with an orange logo on one side. I gave him a puck. He smiled widely as did his father. I felt redemption, and would always remember the first non-graduation event autograph I’ve ever signed.
Other notable games that I’ve worked included the Stanley Cup championship series against the Boston Bruins; the Rangers game where Dale Rolfe was ferociously beaten up by Dave Shultz right in front of the glass where I was standing. We had to scrape blood from the ice after it ended.
I helped roll out the carpet for Kate Smith when she sang God Bless America before the Flyers’ cup-clinching game. I was standing on the ice as Phil Esposito skated toward Ms Smith, extending his arms as he presented her with a bouquet of roses. Moments later, linesman, John D’Amico discovered a hole in the visiting team’s net; the tunnel-side, near section M. The game was being delayed. I cramped down inside the net. holding several pieces of spare jute twine about six inches in length.
I twisted and tugged, and knotted the twine, closing the the hole. D’Amico stood above me the whole time screaming, “Hurry, Hurry … fix that fuckin’ net; the game’s beginning.” Gil Gilbert, skated back and forth within the crease, scraping the ice surface. The wayward ice and snow shooting up at me, spraying my pants and shirt. I was kneeling right behind him Gilbert. Sharpened skate blades, white Bruins’ jersey, black socks with gold trim, Spectrum snow and a clunky big wooden goalie stick–just inches away, an image to last a lifetime.
I was working the night Dave Schultz scored his first hat trick against the Rangers. He skated over to me and asked for the Shultz’ army helmet that I had just picked up off the surface of the ice. When the Flyers won the cup. I felt like a proud member of the team, wearing my white ice crew uniform the rest of the day as cheering fans shook my hands and cheered us on.