Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates show off new apparel

Portland, ME – You either love’em or hate’em (Sort of like the Boston Red Sox eh?), but in the end you have to just live with’em. No, I’m not talking about your spouse or significant other in your life, but the new RBK Edge jersey.

The Portland Pirates unveiled their jersey’s today in front of an eager few who made the preseason trip to the Cumberland County Civic Center to see Eric Weinrich and family model off the new threads in hopes of slapping down a few bucks in being one of the first to own a new jersey.

The catalyst for changing the jersey came as a result of RBK signing a multi-year deal with the NHL and AHL as the official supplier of hockey apparel. In the process, RBK has spent the last three years developing a jersey that was lighter, faster and handled moisture better then what had previously been available to players in the past. For the most part, prior to this change the hockey jersey had not changed in nearly 50 years when the players wore real sweaters in place of the today’s modern hockey jersey.

From the Pirates prospective it was about developing a jersey that helps improve the game by improving the player, not only from a talent level, but improving his comfort level and his range of motion.

“The purpose of the system is to improve the performance of the player,” said Pirates Managing Owner/CEO Brian Petrovek. “If you improve the performance of the player, the product on the ice is better for the fan, so at the end of the day what’s behind this in terms of its technology and what’s driving the product line is to make the game better on the ice so the fans will see a better product.”

When it was first announced that the jersey’s were changing, there was groundswell of complaints from fans about not being able to own a jersey because they are considered form-fitting or cost of the jersey was too-high, but it appears that RBK has settled those fears.

Ranging from $79.00 to $199.00, the Pirates and RBK have made it affordable to own a new jersey if the fans so choose. Another feature the Portland Pirates have brought on-line is in-house customizing so you can purchase the jersey and have it customized within a single hockey game. (Certainly a first for me.)

“From a consumer line of products, RBK is very sensitive to not have a one size fits all,” said Petrovek. “I don’t think everybody will be neglected. I’m confident they’ve dealt with that issue because they invested too much into this (project).”

The Pirates felt it was important to keep the jersey close to what they had in prior seasons, but fans will notice a few drastic changes when the Pirates take to the ice in October. They’ll notice no script bearing the name Portland across the front and they’ll notice the roping around the bottom of the jersey has also been removed from the jersey.

“ I could have put (Portland Script) back in, but it didn’t fit,” said Petrovek. “This is more sleek and I think people know we’re Portland. We didn’t change too much (the jersey) purposely. We did a little tweaking here and there. The red jersey we’ll introduce next year, it’ll be pretty darn cool too. We didn’t want to tinker too much with our brand and our color scheme and our pallet. We’re trying to build equity in it, so we like it. We like it even better with McDonald’s on it.”

Speaking of McDonald’s, the Pirates have added a new sponsorship to the jersey for the 2007-08 season with the fast food giant. (I wonder if that means Big Mac’s in the press box?)

From a player’s perspective, they like it for the most part, some players have made their own customization’s such as Darcy Tucker or Jason Blake of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but overall the feedback has been positive.

“I think it’s great,” said Pirates defenseman Eric Weinrich. “It’s basically the direction hockey is going in. It’s a new look and they’re (NHL) trying to get a new image, but best of all, I think they (RBK) really researched it, put in the right kind of material and they’ve taken a lot of input from players. I think they’ve come up with something functional and something that overall is good for the (players).”

Welcome to the 21st century.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply