Article By: Deborah Wilcock, Jet Ice President Photo Credit: The Ryerson Connection
Known as the world’s first Professional Ice Technician, Doug Moore was the coolest man behind the scenes in hockey - hands down.
His journey into history began in 1974 when Harold Ballard, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, promoted him to Chief Engineer, making him responsible for ice conditions at Maple Leaf Gardens. The NHL had tripled to 18 teams by then, bringing a longer schedule and warm weather hockey. Ownership added a centre-hung scoreboard and increased seating for hockey to 17,000. With an antiquated refrigeration plant and a concrete floor nearly 50 years old, Doug realized providing a high quality ice surface for the Leafs would require changes in how artificial ice was made.
Doug started experimenting with the Gardens’ surface, determined to improve “all things ice”. He applied science to freezing water and discovered purity was the key. Mineral free water froze faster and using hot water floods produced a smooth, shiny ice sheet. He focused on ice paint, developing a specific formula for ice sports and bright enough for television broadcasts. Inspired by messages painted freehand on the ice by the Gardens’ paint shop, Doug created pounce patterns for sponsorship logos, adding a new revenue stream for ice facilities.
The Gardens’ ice surface was now denser, harder and faster and able to withstand razor-sharp skate blades and the heat of glaring television lights. Accolades poured in and Doug’s reputation as an authority on ice making was the talk of the National Hockey League. His talents were recruited by skating icons like Toller Cranston and Elvis Stojko. He rocked the world of curling, sharing his formulas with the best ice makers in the country.
No one enjoyed a challenge more than Doug Moore. His expertise was front and centre on CBC’s “Venture” how when he was contracted by the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg to supervise an off-site game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings. With minimal refrigeration capacity and outside temperatures exceeding 95°F, a portable ice mat was installed on the baseball field. Using 50,000 lbs of ice cubes, Doug pre-cooled the hot concrete slab and chilled the warm southern flood water for making ice.
Promoted as “Fire on Ice”, this 1990 event featuring Gretzky vs. Lemieux attracted 26,000 fans - setting an NHL attendance record. Innovators change things and Doug Moore was an innovator. He dedicated his life to and earned his livelihood from educating and training rink managers. He was a pioneer and a visionary, transforming ice making into a craft and changing the future of the ice making industry. Due to one man’s passion and drive to understand and improve artificial ice, every figure skater that glides on ice, curler who draws to the button and speed skater who has gone faster than ever before are unknowingly part of Doug Moore’s legacy.
His proven principles, concepts and theories remain best practice in the ice making industry today.
Doug Moore was Canada’s Ice Man.