The Islanders' move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will not include the Ice Girls.
Barry Baum, executive vice president and chief communications officer for the Nets and Barclays Center, confirmed the decision.
"We just decided to go in a different direction," Baum said. "We've had a lot of talks and met with Islander fans on Long Island and discussed some of the traditions that they would like to see brought to Barclays Center . . . We believe they are going to be very happy."
Baum said that Barclays Center will replace the Ice Girls with a "co-ed ice crew team" that will help create "the best ice possible."
Each Ice Girl was offered a position on the new Ice Crew at Barclays Center before anyone else. Some have accepted and will be participating again this season, Baum said.
The Ice Girls were started in the 2001-02 season. The Islanders were the first team in the NHL to introduce such a squad, with many other teams soon following with similar squads. Dressed in cheerleader-like uniforms, they were an on-ice staple during game breaks at Nassau Coliseum, skating around as they shoveled loose snow into buckets. They would also participate in the team's pregame introduction and interact with fans.
"I think it's crazy . . . I've known for a little while and I think it's really upsetting," said Christi Kunzig, who spent six seasons as an Ice Girl before hosting in-house segments on Nassau Coliseum's jumbo-tron last year. "They've been such an important part of the franchise and the organization. The fans connected with us. I know so many of them, especially the season ticket holders that we saw at every game for years and years. You get to know them so well. Some of them have even told me, 'If the Ice Girls aren't going, I'm not getting my season tickets.'
"We were ambassadors for the team," Kunzig, 26, of Bethpage said. "We would go to community events and were really immersed in the communities. We went to fairs, school assemblies, you name it. Any time there was a community event, we were always there."
Stephanie Chernick, who was an Ice Girl from 2009-2012 and named Miss New York in 2013, hopes that fan outrage will someday signal a return. She still keeps in touch with her former squad.
"I'm getting so many messages thanking us for being a role model to their children and making the game more enjoyable," Chernick, 34, of Manhattan said. "We were the first NHL team to ever have Ice Girls . . . Other teams tried to be like us. We were the pioneers."
Now the Ice Girls have become another part of Islanders history that ended with the final game at Nassau Coliseum in April.