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Orpik: League, not players, needs to worry about post-lockout marketing

Dec 24, 2012, 5:45 PM EDT

Brooks Orpik

When this lockout ends, the task of winning back the fans will begin. That’s something of that should be of equal concern to both players and owners, especially if players’ salaries are once again tied to hockey-related revenues.

“Obviously you think about that kind of stuff,” said Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. “But the league, that‘s their side of things. They‘re the ones who need to worry about marketing. Our job is to play our best. We are the product. There is no league without us.”

Orpik added that the NHL’s public relations department will have plenty of work to do.

“The only way we can sell the game as players is to play as well as possible and to be accessible with the fans and media,” Orpik said. “But the rest is the league‘s job.”

Orpik ultimately thinks the Penguins will be fine, but he’s not as sure about non-traditional markets that enjoyed playoff runs like Phoenix and Florida.

“But it‘s not our job to worry about that,” Orpik concluded.

  1. antkowiak666 - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    “But the league, that‘s their side of things. They‘re the ones who need to worry about marketing. Our job is to play our best. We are the product. There is no league without us.”
    sorry Orpik but you are wrong…..there is no league without US,the FANS!

  2. hotloinsofsid - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    i will support “the franchise” regardless cus i am a true fan

  3. digbysellers - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I’m just going to assume that Brooks did not graduate from the Wharton School at UPenn. Please send him down our way so he can get a lesson in who’s paying his bills and putting food on his table.

  4. sampulls - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Another stupid comment from a stupid player.

    • johngaltx - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      He played three seasons for Boston College. BC is a college, you know like a school of higher learning, where people go to learn stuff beyond making rude comments on the internet.

      • duster1982 - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM

        right, because an athlete going to college automatically means they got an education. (see NFL)

  5. isithockeyseasonyet - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Another misinformed player, glad he isn’t paid to think

  6. shortsxit34 - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I can understand and respect differing opinions. Uninformed and ignorant people spouting off nonsense pisses me off, though.

    Orpik, you’re more than entitled to an opinion, but know what you’re talking about before forming one.

  7. steelpenbucs87 - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Are you guys reading what he said? He is (albeit tacitly) acknowledging the importance of fans saying that they need to be won back for the health and solvency of the league. He’s just saying that that is the owners’ problem essentially – which he is also right about. It has always been the job of teams to market their teams in the cities to entice the marginal fan.

    Why are people getting all pissed about this? When the game returns responsibility for getting fans in seats and eyes on TVs will be split as it always has – up to the players to make a worthwhile product and for the teams to market said product.

    • somekat - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      People are pissed because he is ruining the lie of the union. The whole time this has been going on, the players just keep talking about how much they want to play, how much they love the fans, blah blah blah. In reality, all they care about is their come up. Which is fine, greedy scumbags made this country great. Just don’t pretend that you aren’t one

  8. unclscrewtape - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Speaking for all Pens fans, Brooks Orpik has ever been available when called upon for charity work or to make an appearance. You’re missing his point. The onus IS on the league and the owners to repair the damage done to the NHL’s brand. That’s THEIR job. Especially given that there is absolutely NOTHING coming out of this lockout that seems geared to the actual improvement of the on-ice product.

  9. habssuck - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    I get what Orpik is saying, marketing is out of his control, all he can control is how he plays.

    As a fan, what I control is what I spend on tix and merchandise. It is clear that the NHL and NHLPA does NOT put the game or the fans first and is willing to hurt both in order to get $. I generally drop 2 grand on tix and merchandise annually. Not anymore, I’ll take another vacay or something i will enjoy just as much. Not supporting these dumbasses anymore.

  10. ravenscaps48 - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:39 PM


  11. fortwaynekomets - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    yeah the least they can do is freaking do some autograph signings or public appearances. growing up near Chicago I got to MEET and get autographs from Chris Chelios, Brian Noonan, Steve Larmer, Michel Goulet, J.R, Belfour… heck I even got to skate with them when they had outdoor skate with the Hawks events.

    my question to you fans… DO ANY of you.ever see any NHL players doing public signings anymore? not me that’s for sure.

    even during the lockout that’s the LEAST they could do! why is it so hard to meet NHL players present day???

    • sportsfreak13 - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM

      Every year 9 pens players do a signing at the local mall, they also have 6 players hand deliver season tickets to at least 50-60 season ticket holders every year. I don’t know about other cities but the pens players always do charity/signings when there’s a season.

  12. blomfeld - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    “There is no league without us” …

    Interesting comment that. So I guess when all of the league’s existing players have retired in 5-10 years time, the NHL will cease to exist? I also take it that this idiot is inferring that every other professional hockey league in the world today is only a “league” by name and nothing more? And you wonder why we have these problems today …

    • sportsfreak13 - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      By us he means the players and when they retire there will be new ones to take his place. You look like more of an idiot for not understanding that.

      • joei22 - Dec 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

        There’s no teams for players to play on without owners.Lets see you go to your boss and make the kind of demands the players are making. I’d be looking for a new job pretty fast. The players make millions to play a game while the owners take the risk. Tampa Bay players play in front of empty seats every night but still want their full pay check. Players need to realize who’s taking the business risk and support the owners. Sign the CBA and play the game

  13. ron05342 - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    The guy clearly is a moron.

    Next player please? Give us a great informed opinion. Talk about being out of touch with your fan base. Sheesh.

    • miketoasty - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      Says the guy who is calling people morons without giving any facts as to why he is calling people morons. What’s your reasoning? I would love to hear.

  14. moagecu - Dec 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    brooks is correct. all he can do is play his best. it is the organizationa job to market the players. signings are set up be the teams head of player personel. cant believe everyone getting upset about a true statement

  15. shortsxit34 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    If you don’t understand why people are upset at his comments, read it through a few times and think about what his comments mean, not just what he’s saying at face value.

    Yes, he admits that the players have to play their best to put a good product on the ice. But then he says, repeatedly, that everything else is up to the league. He clearly implies that “Everything is the league’s fault. We’re going to go back to playing like normal and the league has to fix everything.” As a player, he refuses to take any responsibility.

    Then he goes on to say something as stupid as, “There is no league without us.” Again, he’s trying to draw a line in the sand and place blame solely on the other side.

    Sure, there is no league without players. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that there is also no league without owners. Employees don’t get paid with no employer. And employers have no money to pay them with without customers. There is also no league without fans. Hockey, like every single other business in the world, is a three-way street: employers, employees, and customers. The NHL is no different, despite what Orpik thinks. The players aren’t special.

    • barkar942 - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:23 PM

      One Hundred percent on target!
      Economics 101.

  16. killerqueenfanatic1 - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Orpik’s comments typical of a person that only cares about himself and not the brand or company. He is just as responsible as the owner to build their brand. They need the fans to be there or otherwise like Mike Babcock says they will be as relevent as bowling!

    • miketoasty - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:43 AM

      What are the players supposed to do beyond what they already do? They already workout almost every day in the week (Some every day), they go to charity events and signings, and also play games 2 – 4 times a week. What more do you want from them? Hell let’s just take away their family’s and making them wear signs and sit on the sidewalks promoting the NHL, I mean that is literally the only thing left they can do past what they already do. The man is just saying that the players shouldn’t be worried about winning fans back, they should do what they have been doing and let the owners worry about how they are going to fill the stadiums back up.

  17. id4joey - Dec 25, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Orpik just made the owners case for a 50/50 split, and maybe 43/57 for the owners.

    • duster1982 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Exactly what I was thinking. Admitting youre just the product, and the it’s the league that does all the work for the game? Well, better give them some more money then!

  18. mountainmantride - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Oblivion (noun): the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening; the state of being forgotten, esp. by the public.

    NHL bye bye.

  19. barkar942 - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    I was flipping channels on TV last night looking for the good old holiday Yule Log, when I stumbled on something.
    It was a bunch of young men playing some kind of game. Half of them were wearing red, and the other half some kind of gold. They had some kind of club in their hands, and they seemed to be on some kind of frozen surface swatting at some stupid little flat black ball type thingy. It took me a few minutes, but then I remembered.
    It was a game called hockey! I then seemed to recall that there was once a pretty good league called the NHL. Boy, it has been so long that I really have to think hard to remember.
    It seems like eons since I saw one of these games. I remember the days when I would DVR every Rangers game and make sure I watched every one. I remember, over the years, having enough money to even buy some of those $100+ tickets and take the train into Penn Station with my wife and daughter and go upstairs to MSG and watch my team play.
    But alas, those days are long gone. Ticket prices kept going up and up and I had to stop going. Couldn’t even afford to buy my daughter a Lundqvist jersey. $260 bucks was the last one I looked at. She was heartbroken, but what could I do? My business took a huge hit in 2008 and I no longer had that extra play money to splurge for extra things like that for her. I know me buying tickets and souvenirs helps the team owner pay the players salaries and all, but I just plain can’t afford it any more.
    It is ashamed that everything fell apart, but simple economics killed the league.I used to love the time I spent following the sport, but now I spend more time with my daughter who is now in her freshman year in High School- at the bowling alley, as she now bowls for last year’s NJ Girls State Champs. So, Mr. Babcock, bowling is now more relevant for me than the NHL.

  20. omniusprime - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Maybe that moron Orpik should worry first about getting a deal done before mouthing of that it’s the league’s problem to do post strike marketing. If the player don’t think that they need to do their part in smoothing over relations with fans then the NHL deserves to die an ignominious death. It’s scum pl;ayer like Orpik that make the NHL the most despised pro sport.

    Hockey Stick – Apply Directly to the Forehead!!!

  21. tyjohn47 - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Orpik is correct in the sense that the single best thing the players can do is play their @$$## off if and when this whole stupid lockout does finally get settled. I would also add though that both the league and the NHLPA need to demonstrate somehow, some way that they understand how much damage has been done to the sport as a result of this lockout. My suggestion is pretty simple; Bettman and D. Fehr both out as a condition of the agreement. Neither are hockey guys and whether its right or wrong, both have toxic reputations at this point in time. Before we all knew how much of a crook Alan Eagleson was, it was normal for he and then NHL President John Ziegler to work out a CBA over dinner and drinks. Probably not realistic to return to anything as peaceful and harmonious as that but both the league and the players association would be well advised to get hockey people (perhaps with law degrees but not necessarily so) in charge of their respective sides. People who are accomplished in one or more areas of the game and whose credentials within it are beyond question and who are universally respected. My personal recommendation for commissioner is either Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.

  22. shotzongoal - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Orpic, you are not a product! You are an employee. You said it best, “Our job is to play our best.” And that is exactly what it is, “your job.” The entertainment product or service is the game of hockey and all the fanfare surrounding the game. Sure we cheer when a star player scores a goal. But we also cheer when a 3rd or 4th line player goal. When we ask a friend to a game we don’t say, “Do you want to go to a Penguin game starring Orpic?” When our star player is injured, we still go to the game and cheer for our team. In reality it’s the “team” that instills the pride in us fan. And that same dedication was there before you were in the game, and will be there years after you retire. I should say at least for me.

    I think you have fallen victim to the PA’s rhetoric. I also feel your message just proves the validity of the owner’s enormous responsibility to the game of hockey. All you have to do is play the game. The owners must do every thing else to draw fans to the game of hockey. Again using your own words, “The only way we can sell the game as players is to play as well as possible and to be accessible with the fans and media, The only way you can sell…what? That is correct you are helping to SELL the Game of Hockey.

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Hookers on Ice ?

      Shotzongoal – Well said friend. These players are a part of a team, while the team is “not” a part of them! And it’s the team we ultimately root for, not just one individual. Besides, these players are probably the furthest thing possible from any concept of loyalty. Nine times out of ten, their loyalty is for whoever has the fattest wallet and nothing more … no different than a woman of ill repute.

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