The Sharks are not backing down from their plan to recruit "ice girls" to help clean the playing surface during each game despite a backlash from a segment of their fan base.

"Fans take pride in the Sharks not objectifying women. Please keep the Tank a family environment," SharksFanTX wrote on Twitter. Another ended her Twitter complaint with an "#icegirlsareadealbreaker" hashtag, vowing to cancel season tickets if the team sticks with its plan. And with little publicity, a "Say NO to Sharks Ice Girls" page on Facebook, as well as a similar petition at change.org, attracted more than 325 supporters each.

In defending their offseason decision, the Sharks stress that they are assembling an "ice team," which -- like the present maintenance crew -- will include men and women.

"We are not modeling our ice team in the same manner as other teams do in the NHL or other professional sports teams with cheerleaders," Sharks chief operating officer John Tortora said. "We're doing it in a way that works for us within our game experience and that is tasteful for San Jose."

To be sure, not all Sharks fans are upset by the decision to follow the lead of 21 other NHL teams that have "ice girls."

"I'm a guy, of course I like the idea," said Michael Alameda, 25, of San Jose before last week's prospects game at the SAP Center. "Every sport has cheerleaders, and it's kind of like a cheerleader."

The outfits vary -- some are revealing, others more modest -- but all seem to put a premium on fit figures and attractive faces. Responsibilities range from removing the accumulated slush nine times each game to leading cheers to going out into the community as team representatives.