This is a follow up on an article I wrote on July 10, after the Pittsburgh Penguins organization announced that they would be adding an "ice crew" to help clean the ice, interact with fans, and take part in other promotional activities .
Now that the tryouts are over, I decided to take a look at last weekend's auditions and see if newly acquired information would change my mind on the controversial addition to the organization.
After posting my article, I continued to read the reactions to this ice crew on sports blogs written by both men and women and I received roughly the same two reactions:
1) Outrage. Why would Pittsburgh do something so out of the character of the blue-collar city?
2) Indifference. Who cares? I'm going to the Consol Energy Center to watch the Pens play. As long as that happens, I don't care what occurs in between whistles.
The women's auditions took place over a span of two days. Day One of the tryouts took place on Saturday and saw nearly 80 women participate.
The process of narrowing down the group consisted of an on-ice portion and an off-ice portion.
The off-ice portion included a brief group interview where the girls were asked why they wanted to be on the ice crew and then a quick demonstration of a spin move.
I'm curious to see how a spin move is related to cleaning ice.
The on-ice portion included fast skating and stopping drills, with added twists like stopping and waving and stopping and quickly picking up a puck.
Ice Crew coordinator Laura Spencer then narrowed the group down to 22 girls who were invited to the final day of the auditioning process.
Day Two consisted of similar activities, interviews, and on-ice drills. The Pens' recap of Day Two's audition process shares some of the interview questions asked to the finalists.
Sarah Cammarata was asked to name the years the Pens won the Cup. She told reporters that, “I got it right because I spent time going over all my trivia.”
Something about that response didn't sit well with me, but at least she got it right.
Erica Corteal was asked to name her favorite member of the team.
Not to seem disrespectful, but I anticipated a typical response of Sidney Crosby for obvious reasons, though I was happy to be wrong. “I said (Marc-Andre) Fleury because who doesn’t love Fleury? He’s like the best goaltender ever. I just love his accent.”
Well, maybe not so happy.
The day ended with Spencer choosing eight girls to be a part of the Pens' ice crew, the recap article closing as follows:
"...the eight girls who were chosen to help comprise the Penguins’ first-ever Ice Crew represent a hard-working, talented, and all-around gifted squad, which will make the Penguins’ organization and the city of Pittsburgh very proud in 2010-11."
I wouldn't be so sure, since the addition of this ice crew has done nothing but bring out the claws and question marks from many fans.
These girls, and guys, are going to have to please a tough crowd, and so far, nothing has shown me that will happen.
While scanning the pictures from the weekend, I was greeted with pictures of girls of different sizes, some tanned, some strikingly pale, bleached hair, and dark hair. All sported the required uniform of a cropped top and stretchy, yoga-like pants.
I want to be clear that this is not intended as an attack on the girls who auditioned. While the interview responses made me chuckle, they've simply done what was asked of them.
However, I stand by my initial point of view. What Spencer, and ultimately the Penguins organization, asked of these girls simply doesn't work with what the Pens and the city of Pittsburgh represent.
I look at the girls and, unfortunately, I see superficiality and a bubble gum sweet attitude.
That is not Pittsburgh.
I see the responses of interview questions, hopefully from girls who didn't make the squad, and I see girls who may not even understand the team.
Again, that is not Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is the blue-collar city that cares more about the success of its sports teams than the pizazz that is present or lacking.
And now the Penguins organization makes the statement that looks and shape are important while hockey knowledge brings up the rear of the ice crew member qualities list .
So far, I'm disappointed that the organization feels the need to go out of character for the sake of bringing "more energy" to what is already one of the most passionate fan bases in the NHL.
I can only hope that there is more in store for this crew that will change my mind.
Pamela Gerlowski, one of the eight chosen to be a part of the crew, said, "Hopefully we can add to [the fans] entertainment value and make them proud to watch us.”
For your sake, let's hope you're right.
I guess we'll see on opening night, but in the end, it is all about the team and that's all I will care about.
This is Pittsburgh, after all.