Go Jets Go?

Posted by Michael Remis in Columns,Jets Columns,Return of the Jets,Winnipeg Jets on June 2, 2011 — 22 Comments

The wait is over, the dream has finally come. NHL hockey is back in Winnipeg, everyone rejoice.

But…this new team doesn’t have a name.

The option taken by Winnipeg fans has been to revert to the old name and traditions that many of us have been brought up with; the whiteout, the Queen, “Jump” by Van Halen, the Winnipeg Jets. The overwhelming response among fans has been to call this team the Jets.

Every poll that has been conducted has been at least 60% in favour of Jets. On Tuesday we saw the citizens of Winnipeg take to Portage & Main and to The Forks wearing Jets jerseys, holding Jets flags, chanting “Go Jets Go!” The spontaneous cheers of “Go Jets Go!” went on through to the late hours of the night.

Support for the Jets name isn’t Winnipeg specific. Even Don Cherry, who has been a supporter of Winnipeg for years opened his interview with True North President Mark Chipman by asking him in a near threatening tone, “are you going to name this team the Jets, or what?”

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The few who are in favour of a new name, have a few common arguments that can be easily debunked:

The Jets weren’t successful. Do you consider the Toronto Maple Leafs successful? The Chicago Cubs? Based on the recency of championships won, you could argue no. I don’t see either franchise’s fans arguing to change their name in an effort to start “new winning traditions”

The new owners want the additional revenue stream of their own brand.  This is false; revenues from apparel & merchandise are split evenly as centrally generated revenue among the 30 teams. The Jets already have an established brand that has been around for over 30 years that is globally known. An important lesson that is taught in business school is: it is easier to take over an existing brand, than to start a new one.

People already have Jets jerseys and won’t buy new ones. The solution to this one is simple: use the same color scheme but modernize the logo and pattern, teams do it all the time. Vancouver has changed their jerseys several times since their Stanley Cup run in 1994, what are the majority of jerseys that you see everyone wearing at the cup final? The new blue ones. I haven’t seen an overwhelming majority of skate logos or the older orcas in the crowd. Fans will want to update to what the players are wearing.

Winnipeg needs a “fresh start” with a new name. I don’t see how this applies. The Jets should have never left, having a team return is the closest thing to Gary Bettman admitting failure. The name has stayed in our hearts and our minds for the last 15 years. Winnipeg has developed a deep emotional connection to the Jets. We didn’t want the “NHL” back, we wanted the “Jets” back.

This isn’t the first time in sports history that a city has had a franchise ripped away from them only for it to return.

In 1995 Art Modell moved the Browns out of Cleveland to Baltimore. The fans and the city revolted and struck a deal to keep the Browns’ name, colours, history, records, awards and archives in Cleveland. When Cleveland was awarded an expansion franchise, it remained the Browns. In their history and record books it states that the team was “deactivated” from the years 1996-1999.

When the CFL’s American expansion failed, the Baltimore Stallions moved to Montreal. They were reincarnated as the Alouettes. The CFL now recognizes all clubs that have played in Montreal since 1946 as one franchise, and the Stallions became defunct.

Why not have the Winnipeg Jets records, history, team colours, name and logo leave Phoenix and come back to Winnipeg. I don’t think that the owners of the Coyotes, the NHL would have much of a issue with that. Gary Bettman stated at Tuesday’s press conference that he had no problem giving back the name.

In the end it’s True North who ponied up and spent $170 million to purchase the team, they are free to choose any direction they like. However, it is the fans who will be supporting the team by buying tickets, concessions and merchandise. It is a tough situation to be in right now for True North.

No matter what this new team’s name is, the people of Winnipeg and surrounding areas will make it their own. It will be unfortunate for many of us who still love the Jets if the name will truly be put to rest.

Sound off your thoughts in the comments

  • J.

    Anything except “Moose” (blech!) would be fine by me.

    I’m hearing the team will definitely be “Manitoba _____ ”

    Falcons? Blizzard? Jets? Doesn’t matter as long as the LOGO & JERSEY look great !

  • Can I get an Amen, Brother!  Loved the article.  I was born in the early 70s, so my whole life is tied to the Winnipeg JETS name, logos, and history.  I WANT THEM BACK!!  I want to share them with my kids who never know NHL hockey in Winnipeg.  Also want the Queen back too, but its gotta be the JETS … the Winnipeg JETS! 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have a good feel re the name  . I think there is a strong link to the provincial government and therefore Manitoba may be favored instead of Winnipeg, wrongly imo.

    Unless TNSE wants to save some fireworks for later , the “we have been too busy to decide on a name” is not believable. Gary Lawless broached this today with Jim Ludlow , he asked if they had a couple mock uniforms done and Ludlow replied with a comment that we saw how prepared and smooth the press conference went. Lawless also said that Ludlow had mentioned many times over the years ( all while no microphone was on ) that the organization was “plug and play” as far as being NHL ready.

    So , we all see how prepared TNSE is and was , and we are to believe they haven’t decided on a name at this stage? I certainly don’t.

    I concur with how all the teams that played in Montreal are all thought of as the same franchise. That applies to Winnipeg as well imo. This provides continuity for  fans , former and future players. History and traditional are vital for sport franchises , and we as fans and owners should do all we can to embrace this .

    Virtually to a man , former Winnipeg Jets are effusive in their praise for the Winnipeg fans , for the time spent here and are thrilled to have Winnipeg back in the NHL. Why would a decision be made to not build on this?

    I have been in numerous places outside of North America and people know the Winnipeg Jets. Checking in at a hotel , paying for a dinner , working out while wearing a Jet t shirt, so many people have a positive  image of Winnipeg because of our Jets. Internationally , the name Winnipeg provides much more than the name Manitoba , no disrespect to the rest of the province. It is their team too of course , I just don’t believe it prudent to name it after the province .

    I have tried to understand why the team won’t or shouldn’t be called the Winnipeg Jets , and truly can not come up with a viable reason.  By the way , there was a lot of success for the Winnipeg Jets , don’t dismiss the WHA and 3 Avco Cups , and look at the great players we have had in both the WHA and he NHL . I mean when Ulf Nilsson isn’t even the best Nilsson on your team , you have serious talent. Just saying.

    Do the right thing , honor the tradition , the passion , and complete this great feel good story , select the only name that should be considered , Winnipeg Jets.

  • Very well said point for point. I keep coming back to one piece of evidence over and over because it’s the one I know from experience. I work in Minneapolis half of the year so I go to a lot of Wild games. Just like Winnipeg, Minnesota LOVES their hockey and they lost their team only to have another one takes its place years down the line. Here we are over ten years after the arrival of the Wild and still most of the Wild games I’ve been to it looks like there are just as many North Stars jerseys as there are Wild jerseys. If not more. I’ve talked to a few guys about that and they say they’ll never wear anything but a North Stars jersey to a game. They love hockey and are happy that they have a team again. They’ve had that new team for over ten years but they still want their North Stars back more than anything.

  • Given what we know about TNSE and their incredible level of preparation, I’m certain the team name, logo and jersey has all been decided on. Once the Drive to 13 is complete, I suspect the fan’s reward will be finding out the team name etc etc (BTW, I personally hope it is the Manitoba ______–it’s been a provincial effort to bring this team back, so let’s celebrate the entire province with the team name)

  • One problem with the Jets name is who will own the Jets (1972-1996) team records?  The franchise in Phoenix or the franchise that came from Atlanta?  

  • Anonymous

    The team that is here now , the team that came from Atlanta. Besides , the franchise in Phoenix will be known as the former team right?

    The original post made a salient point in this regard and the Alouettes situation.

  • Gotta say, I’ve been guilty of using the “revenue from a new brand” and the “fresh start” arguments.  Learned something new from both of your explanations – thanks!

  • Luke Miguez

    Well it won’t be that big a deal if the Phoenix Coyotes end up in Quebec City within a few years :p

  • Anonymous

    The Moose wasn’t a great name in the IHL or AHL  , it would be less of one in the NHL imo.

  • Manitoba Jets , this should satisfy both sides. it’s  the new upgraded winnipeg jets. new name/logo while maintaining tradition. 

  • Roshan Menon

    Although I was initially not for naming the team the Jets (unless it was the Coyotes who moved back to Winnipeg), I’ve been swept overboard by the feelings & emotions of the vast majority of fans. It should be the Winnipeg Jets.

  • I don’t have this name and logo for no reason.  Time for a change Winnipeg.  We don’t always have to look for precedents to determine what we should do.  Time to blaze our own trail.  Manitoba Falcons are set to fly.

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  • Anonymous

    I think Chipman should make a deal with Grapes; if he agrees to wear a sedate, gray, pin-striped suit to the opener, he’ll go with the Jets name.

  • Luke Miguez

    Gotta go with the Winnipeg Jets, that or the Manitoba Jets.  Either of those is fine with me.  There’s a lot of “we have to close an old chapter” on Winnipeg hockey history sort of talk, but I just have to say that a lot of the people I saw at The Forks on Tuesday were people who were under 10 years of age back when the Jets left in 1996.  They didn’t have a strong connection to the Jets of the 70s and 80s, but regardless they immediately identified NHL hockey in Winnipeg with the ‘Jets’ moniker.

    From a business standpoint it’s basic knowledge that it’s easier to take over existing brands than to build new ones.  True North has two existing brands at its disposal, the ‘Winnipeg Jets’ and the ‘Manitoba Moose’ and I just think that the Moose despite how well they were run just bleed minor league-status through the moniker.  Would we really want to go to New York and Los Angeles for a US-nationally televised game between the NY Rangers and the Manitoba Moose?  Come now.

  • As long as people get to chant “Go Jets Go” they’ll be happy. The best compromise is Manitoba Jets but I think people need to brace themselves for something new altogether. 

    When I started hearing it was likely the Moose I was pissed, but then the name ” Manitoba Polar Bears” was brought up as a serious contender, and a Moose supporter was born.

    Please, God. NOT the Polar Bears. 

  • I agree.  Polar Bears is atrocious.  Still not a Moose supporter either.  “Go Jets Go”.

  • I’m from Winnipeg, my family is from Winnipeg. My son is the 1st in 5 generations to be born outside of Manitoba. I and many other people have no problem with the name of the team being the Winnipeg Jets.  Its not just about the history, its about an identity, when someone thinks of professional hockey (WHA and NHL) there is only one team name that rolls off the tongue. That name is Winnipeg Jets. Not the Manitoba Jets, Winnipeg Jets.
    There are many other fine team names out there and you’ve listed a few of them. I’m sure that some other city would be happy with those names.  But for us its the Winnipeg Jets.
    Winnipeggers did not hate the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, they didn’t even dislike that name or team. It is a good team, a fine MINOR pro-team.  Arguments for the new NHL team to be called the Manitoba Moose are that it has been the city’s team for 15 years and it is a recognizable brand that True North has shaped and built up.  That is all well and true, but I challenge anyone to ask someone from Winnipeg what hockey league they think of when you say “Manitoba Moose” the answer will be and forever be ‘AHL’, just as if you ask the same question but with the “Winnipeg Jets” the answer has been and will forever be ‘NHL’.  
    You see it isn’t so much the history, it is the identity.  WE identify with the JETS, kids who were not even toilet-trained when the Jets 1.0 were sold identify with the Winnipeg Jets, there were quite a few of them at Portage and Main when the rumors were running rampant. They were ALL chanting the same thing…GO JETS GO!

    We know the team that was sold in 96 wasn’t the best team, sure since that team entered the league in 79 there were a lot of problems with the on ice product, but that isn’t what I remember, I remember the roar of the crowd and the way the players made Winnipeg their home. I remember my grandfather listening to the radio broadcasts of the games not because he couldn’t afford to go to the games but because that is how he identified with the team. We’d listen to the crowd over the airwaves, the excitement in the announcer’s voice when Dale Hawerchuk would fly up the ice and make 3 opposing players look stupid. Win or lose, we identify with the Jets. Not just us in, and from, Manitoba but people all around the world. Hockey legends like Hawerchuk and Selanne identify with the name, hell even the Great One said today he identifies with the Winnipeg Jets.

    So, if anyone from True North is reading this, please name the team Winnipeg Jets. The Jets 1.0 may of moved to Arizona, but to tell you the truth, MY Jets NEVER moved. They are waiting, waiting in Winnipeg to fly again!

  • Anonymous

    Wayne Gretzky just said when asked if he had any advice for Mark Chipman , name the team the Winnipeg Jets.

    He said Bobby Hull made hockey in Winnipeg and that both Bobby Hull and the fans deserve the respect of calling the team Winnipeg Jets.

    Great , great answer. Mark Chipman will be on the show in a bit , let’s hear his response to the Great One.

  • True North couldn’t possibly dare defy The Great One AND Don Cherry, could they? 😉

  • Anonymous

    With the photo of Bobby Orr behind him when Chipman was on HNIC , maybe number four needs to encourage TNSE as well? That would a difficult hockey trinity to defy.