Tom Miracle: Ice Operations Manager, Amalie Arena
Where are you from? Fort Wayne, IN
How long have you lived in Tampa Bay? I moved down here October of 94. I opened the building September 6, 1996. I've been in the building working 21 years. I've been here since the beginning.
I moved from Indiana to get away from the snow, the cold and the ice.
How do you learn to drive a zamboni? Actually I started out as a rink rat. I worked for the hockey team in Fort Wayne at 14 years old. I was a stick boy. One of the players who ended up being a good friend of mine made me mad so I jumped ship. I ran off and quit working for the team and started working for the building and they taught me to drive the zamboni and I refined my skills once I got down here.
What's the hardest thing about driving a Zamboni? I would say the lap - the blind lap. On your right-hand side you can't see, so you have to estimate. I tell people it's like mowing grass. The Zamboni is just like your garden tractor at home. I catch myself mowing at home like I drive the Zamboni here.
What's a job well done for a Zamboni driver? The team winning and everybody happy.
That's a lot pressure for the guy driving the zamboni. It is. It's a stressful job. It's a thankless job a lot of times.
You guys get cheered when you come out. The machine does. Everybody wants to drive the zamboni.
Who’s your hero and why? I had an uncle that kind of straightened me out. I wasn't a bad kid -- just mouthy. One day he shook my hand and he held on to it tight and he said "if you were my kid, I'd knock your teeth out." So he kind of straightened me out and I loved him to death. He went on to be the chief of police in Fort Wayne. He was inspiration. He was a very good guy. Of course, my father taught me a great deal. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be automotively inclined and wouldn't be as relaxed around these machines as I am.
What do you do for fun or hobby? Golf, and I like auto racing. We have a golf league in the building and there's three or four municipal courses we play.
What do you like about your job? The satisfaction of looking at that fresh sheet ice and knowing that's the best I can do.
Are you a perfectionist? Yes.
What’s something people don’t know about it? How stressful it actually is. You figure you've got guys like Stamkos and now Tyler Johnson and even Crosby and Ovechkin, and all these guys that are making big money, that are the elite players, skating on your sheet of ice and that's a lot of stress to know that you've got to prepare that the best you can -- not just for our team but for everybody who's coming in. We take pride in that.
What makes a good sheet of ice? Hard. Fast. You want to skate on top of it, not through it.
What do you recommend your visitors do for fun when they come to Tampa? Busch Gardens has got to rank up there. Ybor City's kind of neat.
We have to address the name: Tom Miracle -- is that your real name? That's a real name: Thomas David Miracle.
"Miracle on ice?" I hear that all the time. The marketing department uses it, as well as the PR department -- Miracle on Ice. I lived that era. Back in the day, I was working for the hockey team in Fort Wayne. While the games were going on, I was watching it on an old tube-type television and running back and forth giving the announcer the scores.