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We just had to ask: The Zamboni driver
Story by Jennifer Prosser
“If you stay in this business long enough, you’ll see it all — from rated-G comedies to NC-17 and beyond.”
Jeremy Keenan, events manager, Orleans Arena
Desert Companion: When did your fascination with the ice and sports begin?
Jeremy Keenan: I’m from Lake Orion, Michigan. Our house was on the lake. Every year when the lake froze over, I’d skate.
DC: When did you move to Las Vegas?
JK: In 2007, I accepted the conversion coordinator position at the Orleans Arena. In that role, I managed the team who performs all the physical building set-ups, ice operations and our cleaning crew.
DC: When did you start driving the Zamboni?
JK: Driving and maintaining the Zamboni was an added perk of the job. Not only for our hockey team, but for exhibition games, figure skating and ice shows. During the beginning years, we only implemented one ice resurfacer. Now we use two, following the NHL model, cutting down the time it takes for the cut and producing a better cut as well.
DC: What does it take to drive the Zamboni?
JK: It’s a job of multi-tasking. You’re doing a lot at the same time. Maintaining the correct blade height to shave the ice, laying the correct amount of water, operating pumps and brushes, making sure the augers are picking up the right amount of shaved ice, all while physically driving the machine in a certain pattern. For game cuts this is also accompanied by answering a lot of ice-related questions to whatever rider we may have.
DC: Do fans respond differently to hockey in Las Vegas?
JK: Fans here love their hockey, and support their team without question. Being that we’re in the desert it seems to have a certain awe factor. The fact that we’re in Las Vegas just makes it cool. We draw a very diverse crowd because of this and get people from all over the country — even other countries — to every game. It is very satisfying to interact with these folks. It’s all about the customer service here.
Las Vegas entertainment is some of the best in the world, and coming in from a different venue, I saw the uniqueness and hip factor right away. A lot of people see great shows out here all the time, but many may not know all that goes into them behind the scenes, or what a Zamboni does ... or what it’s doing out here.
DC: Do fans ever try to get out on the ice — to get to the Zamboni or at any other time?
JK: They usually don’t, unless it’s for a promotion or a photo op of some sorts, although we do host post-game skates on certain occasions.
DC: What is the strangest thing you’ve seen a fan do at a hockey game or at any other event?
JK: Crazy things? That’s like asking what’s my favorite movie ... there’s just too many to name one instance. But if you stay in this business long enough, you’ll see it all — from rated G comedies to NC-17 and beyond.
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