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Smooth Operator
Steve Rushin
November 28, 2005
The Gear Daddies had a cult hit singing I Want to Drive the Zamboni, but me, I want to be a Zamboni, the last great role model in sports.
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November 28, 2005

Smooth Operator

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Last week six Zambonis sat on the factory floor, awaiting shipment to China and Sweden and various North American cities. In a good year, only 100 new Zambonis roll off the lot. A new top-of-the-line 500-series model, the kind used in the NHL, sells for about $65,000, the same sticker price as a Z06 Corvette.

And while Zamboni has a branch in Brantford, Ont.--serendipitously enough, Wayne Gretzky's hometown--the home office and factory remain in a series of corrugated steel garages in Paramount, directly across the Los Angeles River from Compton, the cradle of gangsta rap.

Paramount has inspired nearly as much music as neighboring Compton: Minnesota's Gear Daddies, voicing the dream of every native son, sang, Ever since I was young, it's been my dream/That I might drive a Zamboni machine. And a Connecticut band called The Zambonis tours arenas and plays "hockey weddings."

Yes, Zamboni general manager Paula Coony has seen little plastic Zambonis atop wedding cakes. She has also seen a Zamboni converted into a barbecue, which makes sense because most Zambonis in the NHL now run on the kind of propane tank you have hooked to your grill.

That's right: Zambonis are environmentally friendly as well as unhurried, hypnotic hockey icons. And they continue to spread happiness like a Holiday Inn housekeeper, one clean sheet at a time.

? If you have a comment for Steve Rushin, send it to rushin@siletters.com.

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