It's Your Rink
By Mark Vaughn
An indoor ice arena can be a great place to play hockey – but it takes every hockey player’s help to keep it that way
Reprinted with the permission of the Minnesota Hockey Journal . October 2000 issue.
When an arena ice sheet is resurfaced and ready for the next group of skaters it is a thing of beauty. The cool grey ice lies still and sheer like a motionless pond, and a slight mist rises as the new layer of water freezes into place. Kleig lights humming overhead are dimmed to an atmosphere of anticipation, and there is slight buzz among the fans in the bleachers. When the first steel blade hits the ice, it cuts the silent tension with the roar of the crowd. Hockey arenas are exciting and beautiful places.
In order to keep the arenas that way, however, rink and arena managers need your help. It is your rink to use, after all, so here are five simple ideas on how to keep your local rink in great shape.
1. Treat your arena like you would treat your own home. You have to clean up your room at home, why not police the arena. If there is a candy wrapper on the floor, throw it away; if there is a broken light switch, alert the arena staff; and if your locker room has hooks on the wall, they’re not for swinging from like a jungle gym. When the arena is considered your own, you will take pride in it and have more respect for it in general.
Don’t assume – remember you are only a user. While it is important to consider the arena yours to use, that doesn’t mean you have the run of it. You don’t get to drive the zamboni, but you may be able to run the clock. Learn the dos and don’ts of your arena.
2. Locker rooms are a privilege. Remember to clean up after games and practices and follow the rules while you’re in it. Changing your skates in the lobby is no way to start a game.
3. Respect all arenas. Remember, you are there to use the facility for recreational purposes. That means playing your heart out against your opponent on the ice and shaking their hand when the game is over. The Golden Rule applies: respect others as you would want to be respected.
That goes for other teams’ facilities, as well. Every arena manager wants a safe, well-run and profitable arena. The operating budgets are fairly high, and as the rinks get older, maintenance costs rise. So costs due to reckless destruction of property or careless disregard for the rules become even tougher to absorb. You are representing your team, association, sponsor, family and yourself, every time you put on your uniform, so always be at your best.
4. Safety First. Pucks fly at hockey games, and they can hit as hard as rocks – so always be on your guard. The arena staffs are prepared for emergencies, but everyone that attends a game must be vigilant. Consider the arena a swimming pool with frozen water: no running, no horseplay, watch for flying pucks, check legally and keep your sticks and skates down.
5. Beware of the moving zamboni! Think of the ice surfacing machine as a very careful bull in a china shop: It’s got a very detailed job to do in a finite space – respect its size and stay out of its way. Rules pertaining to resurfacing are very important to maintaining the arena and the safety of all skaters. All patrons (except for net pushers) must leave the ice before resurfacing begins. Remember that the resurfacing machine operator can not see around the entire machine – always steer clear of them. Pick up pucks, tape and broken pieces of stick because they can damage the resurfacing machine – which is very expensive to repair or replace. It all comes down to respect: respect for your facility and everyone in it. That kind of attitude is a win-win for everyone.
Mark Vaughan is the Civic Arena Manager for the City of Eagan and former president of the Minnesota Ice Arena Managers Association (M.I.A.M.A).