The Cold Shoulder : Disney Ducks' Iceman Is Told to Melt Away

TIMES STAFF WRITER

You might say that the Iceman, the latest character in the Disney cast, is in a bit of hot water.

Known for creating characters people love to hug, the folks who brought us Mickey, Donald and the gang may finally have come up with a character people love to hate.

Debuting last Friday at Anaheim Arena in the inaugural game for Disney's Mighty Ducks hockey team, the Iceman's wild-eyed, in-your-face shtick met with boos and hisses the likes of which do not usually fall on the ears of Disney characters.

The Iceman hit the penalty box faster than the players: By the end of the second period intermission of the first game, he was outta there.

The Iceman hasn't set foot inside the arena since then, not after Mike Davis, Disney's director of entertainment, walked up and told him to call it a night while the game was still under way.

And when the Ducks played their home sequel on Sunday, the Iceman was not to be seen.

You probably won't see him at tonight's match against the Edmonton Oilers either. For now, the Iceman has been shelved. Put in the deep freeze. Or, as they say in Toon Town, sent back to the drawing board.

"The Iceman's a little battered and bruised," Davis conceded this week. "We're not sure we're going to bring him back."

For his part, the Iceman thinks his icy reception was a raw deal: "The team was down 5-1 and the crowd turned on me," the 32-year-old musician said this week after being told to keep a low profile.

"At this point, it wouldn't matter if he was Neil Diamond up there, he'd still get booed," said Mighty Ducks President Tony Tavares, explaining the once-a-bum, always-a-bum credo among professional sports fans.

Ironically, Disney conceived the Iceman's bizarre, silver-faced, frazzle-haired looks and rock-till-you-drop demeanor because they were dealing with that peculiar breed of sports fan known as the professional hockey fan.

On paper, the Iceman is supposed to pop up all around the arena, rant, rave, belt out a few tunes and generally whip the crowd into a frenzy. He whipped the crowd into a frenzy all right, but it wasn't quite the frenzy that Disney had in mind.

So sheepish were officials after the performance that they declined to identify by name or whereabouts the entertainer who portrays the Iceman. A low-level Disney source, asked to assess the Iceman's performance, said simply: "He sucks."

But even as Disney doyens were pondering whether there should be a kinder, gentler Iceman or no Iceman at all, the Iceman himself speaketh.

In his "day job," the North Hollywood man says, he is an experienced musician, a keyboard player for Disneyland's Tomorrowland Terrace Band. Under strict orders to keep a low profile, he asked the The Times not to reveal his name; The Times was glad to oblige because the Iceman has had a tough enough week.

He says that while people may not have warmed up to the Iceman at first, he deserves a second chance. He blamed a slew of technical difficulties for the not-so-hot debut. "Even if you're Jon Bon Jovi, it's going to sound lame" under those conditions, he said.

He may need a costume change, too, something more like his fellow mascot, the Mighty Duck, who wears a large duck head: "When you've got that big thing over your head," he said, "you can get away with murder."

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