A glimpse inside the magical world of Zambonis

Tue, Sep 28
8:53
PM ET
Marla Rutherford for ESPN The MagazineDespite revolutionizing the way we look at ice, the Zambonis have kept the business in the family.

They are the sweetest three words any red-blooded hockey knucklehead will ever get to hear. Just as I am exiting the understated Zamboni headquarters in Paramount, Calif., the newest gleaming, hulking, three-ton wonder lumbers out a factory door and stops directly in my path.

The temptation too great, I grab a handle far above my head and climb skyward into the driver's seat. Below me, company president Richard Zamboni, 78, steps up and protectively pats the rotund chassis of the machine as if it were the soft, furry belly of a giant blue Labrador retriever.

That's when I notice: He's got the keys.

"Whaddya think?" I yell down, half joking.

Squinting up at me into the hot California sunshine, Zamboni shrugs his bony shoulders and does a quick 360 for cars and nervous PR people. Seeing none, he tosses the keys to the $100,000 machine heavenward and utters those three magical words: "Aw, go ahead."

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