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Zamboni machine stands test of time

By Cameron Eickmeyer, 07/28/09, 10:15AM MDT


When Frank Zamboni set about creating an ice resurfacing machine, he did so with the simple goal of creating better ice for his rink in Southern California.

Zamboni could hardly have envisioned that his machine, named after its creator, would grow to become common in rinks around the world. Zamboni, who passed away in 1988, will join the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2009 along with the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso and John LeClair.

The Zamboni is still produced by the family business and, in 2007, the 8,500thZamboni was produced. That the machine has largely held to its original 1940s design stands proof of Zamboni’s ingenuity.

“He just had a knack for envisioning things and what could be done,” said Zamboni’s son, Richard. “One of the things that kept him going was people saying that he couldn’t.”

Richard said his father didn’t plan on building a business, but when opportunity knocked, Frank didn’t shy away. He took his invention to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, in Squaw Valley, Calif., and the machine continued to gain notoriety when it began touring with the Ice Capades.

As the business grew and the machine worked its way across the country, eventually becoming the “Official Ice Resurfacer of the NHL” in 2002, Zamboni stayed focused on the simple goal of making good ice.

“He just wanted to always make that machine better,” Richard said. “He was a very humble man and would have been tremendously pleased to receive this honor and see the recognition of what he liked to do.”