From behind the lens of his camera, SCSU alumnus Jon Otte has witnessed many victories on the ice over the years, but none quite like the moment the Pittsburgh Penguins grasped the Stanley Cup this season.
The 2011 graduate began working for the Penguins organization a mere two years after covering SCSU hockey while being on board the award-winning Husky Productions (HP) team.
“It’s amazing, it seems like it was just yesterday [I was there],” Otte said. “If someone would have told me I would be working for the Penguins after graduating, I’m not sure I would have believed them.”
Otte was heavily involved in student media at St. Cloud State. Beyond HP, Otte was also part of UTVS News and co-produced original content on a show called AVFuzz that featured live music and action sports. They would travel and shoot live performances at First Avenue and often-frequented Powder Ridge to feature snowboarders and skiers.
St. Cloud State Assistant Athletic Director Joel Larsen and Otte were students and colleagues for HP.
Larsen said, “During his [Otte’s] time at St. Cloud State he surrounded himself with other talented students and they produced some of the most creative content I have ever seen come out of UTVS.
“Jon is an incredible talent in this industry, it is no surprise that his work has gotten him to the NHL ranks so quickly. I am very happy for him that he has been able to experience an NHL championship with the Penguins.”
After graduating, Otte got his foot in the door interning for the Minnesota Wild, where he worked an entire season shooting content, uploading video and interviewing the players after games and practices. Although they didn’t have a position open for him when the season was over, they kept him in mind and gave him a call upon hearing a spot opened up in the NHL for the Penguins.
A hop, skip and a jump later, Otte landed the position.
“Literally, the very next day I had a phone interview with the Penguins. The day after [that interview] they hired me without even meeting me in person.”
In January of 2013, Otte moved out to Pittsburg to work as an associate producer for the show, ‘In the Room,’ that is an all-access, behind-the-scenes show that documents players throughout the season both on and off the ice.
“I still remember my first day on the job like it was yesterday, I remember road tripping from St. Cloud out to Pittsburgh with my dad, driving the entire way through, staying up all night.”
One year later he was promoted to producer, where he spends time going through 300-400 hours of playback action in a season, often traveling with the team.
“It’s awesome, I’ve been to so many places now that I would probably never would have ended up going without this job,” Otte said. “It lets you experience new places and see hockey from different places.”
The St. Cloud native grew up playing the sport that has had a big role in his life ever since his youth seasons.
Otte recalls going to St. Cloud State hockey games with his dad, watching players like Matt Cullen back in 1996, who now is a forward for the Penguins. Otte and Cullen laugh about it today, but Otte imagines it makes him feel somewhat aged.
After a turbulent start to the season with replacing their coach, Otte was in San Jose for the final when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup for the second time since 2009.
“Midway through the season when our coach was fired, I worked 103 hours in one week making edits/changes to our show, ‘In the Room.’ “I slept under my desk 2 nights in a row,” Otte said.
Mike Johnston and Gary Agnew relieved of their coaching duties. Mike Sullivan named new Head Coach of the Penguins. https://t.co/1Y2HMlpCXf
Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 12, 2015
But, it was all worth it in the end as the Penguins locked the season down.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I didn’t even get to see the last 5-6 minutes of the game because I was downstairs in the tunnel.”
It was the moment of truth; either Otte would go out and celebrate the victory with the team or hurry back to the locker-room for post-game interviews. The relief and excitement was unmatched when the buzzer rang out, with the Penguins on top.
“We got to see the guys raise the cup and just like that, all their hard work during the season had gone into that moment. It was amazing to be a part of that.”
Larsen says Otte’s story-telling ability and creativity turn nearly all subject matter into something viewers want to see.
“Despite his high-talent level, he is very humble, caring and hard working. I think that combination has allowed him to be such a good fit in the hockey community. He has proven himself as a trusted storyteller to the professional athletes and their families.”
It’s been a flurry of activity for Otte in the aftermath of the win. Over 50,000 people showed up for the Stanley Cup parade that took place in Pittsburgh days after the game ended.
Otte says he has one more episode of ‘In the Room’ to put together before calling it a wrap. Afterwards, more preparation is to come for the hockey season to start back up. But, for long-term plans, Otte says he is taking one season at a time and riding things out.
For Huskies planning hoping to go into the field, he says to take advantage of the programs offered.
“You never know where the heck you will end up “ try to learn as much as you can while you’re there [SCSU] and you’ll be ready for the real world.”
Jon Otte, Pittsburgh Penguins