Three unlikely names for the NHLs return to Winnipeg

Manitoba Moose throwback jerseyThe rumors around a new team name for the NHL in Winnipeg continue to swirl. Yesterday we asked what will the Winnipeg Jets hockey team name become and since then there have been more articles circulating on speculation.

We can confirm in a Toronto Sun article that Mark Chipman of True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) hasn’t ruled out ‘Jets’ name for the relocated franchise.

“We know there’s lots of passion around the name. That’s how I got into this business in 1996, was the passion I felt, my family felt, for keeping the Jets here. So I get the name. I get the brand, I get the passion around it. We’re going to study it real carefully. We’ll do our best to make the right decision.”

Then comes the curve ball announced this morning. CBC is reporting that the name of the hockey franchise in Winnipeg won’t be announced until after the season ticket drive is complete.

“We want people to stay focused on the process of getting the 13,000 and getting the franchise secured because if we don’t get to the 13,000, then the signal that sends to the larger hockey community is not necessarily a positive one,” said Scott Brown, communications director at TSNE.

It will be interesting to see how the naming process unfolds. Chipman has also been quoted as saying that choosing the team name as a fan vote is also being discussed. In many online polls by large sports sites, the Winnipeg Jets name is the front runner from anywhere between 65% up as high as 87%. If it comes to a fan vote, it looks like there’s already a clear winner.

There is however a large handful of names proposed for Winnipeg. Some appear a much more viable option than others. Here’s a look at three names.

Manitoba Moose

Manitoba Moose AHL logoThe Manitoba Moose is the name of the existing AHL franchise that has called Winnipeg home ever since the Winnipeg Jets left after the 1996 season. When TSNE announced the agreement to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers on May 31, 2011, the AHL released a statement with regards to the future of the Moose franchise stating “The Manitoba Moose have been a flagship franchise for the AHL over the last decade.” It goes on to further comment “the future of the Manitoba AHL franchise will be determined in the weeks ahead, and we look forward to Winnipeg’s NHL club developing its top prospects in the AHL.”

In the years prior to the Jets departure there was a team located in St. John’s, Newfoundland. There were rumors that the Moose would be relocated back to St. John’s to grow hockey in a country that’s crazy for the sport. Just this morning CBC has reported that a tentative deal to bring the Manitoba Moose to St. John’s was on the table and TSNE will remain the franchise owner. All that’s needed is the blessing of the AHL and the city council.

So while the rumors of keeping the Manitoba Moose name for the NHL in Winnipeg keep moving, it seems a little less likely to be the case. Additionally, the Moose name is synonymous with professional amateur hockey (doesn’t that seem ironic), and some Winnipeg fans have been heard saying they’ll have a tough time shedding that perspective. Only once in the past has an AHL name been “called up” to the NHL. Back in the mid-1970s, the Cleveland Barons moved up – and look where they are now.

Winnipeg Thrashers

The Winnipeg Thrashers would be an easy name because it’s the Atlanta Thrashers that are moving. Much like when Atlanta lost its franchise to Calgary to become the Calgary Flames, it could move the name with it. The name itself, Winnipeg Thrashers, doesn’t really evoke an emotion, and that’s perfectly OK. It turns out that in the sale of the franchise to TSNE, the Atlanta Spirit Group kept the name in the transaction. Perhaps they’re hoping to bring the Thrashers back in a few season, or move the ever failing Phoenix Coyotes in a couple of season after the NHL has sold them off like a cheap auction.

In any event, we can confidently say that it won’t be the Winnipeg Thrashers.

Manitoba Jets

The Manitoba Jets seems to be a close second to keeping the Winnipeg Jets team name, and while it doesn’t have the same wring to it, I think the fans could get used to it. There’s a few arguments to go with the team name.

  1. Gary Betman, NHL commissioner, has openly stated that the NHL owns the trademark for the Jets and is willing to give it to TSNE “without taking a single penny.” That’s contradictory to what I said about being in business to make money, but he’s been quoted in a few places stating as such. The only issue here is that our sources indicate they own the Winnipeg Jets trademark and not the trademark on the Jets. Good thing, or the New York Jets from the NFL could have some issues.
  2. One savvy forum poster indicated that because of free agency rules, TNSE cannot use the name Winnipeg Jets because of Shane Doan who currently plays for the Phoenix Coyotes; the lone member of the Winnipeg Jets franchise still in the NHL. In major league sports like the NHL, MLB, CFL, NBA and NFL professional athletes can only move from one team to another either by free agency or by a trade. If the Winnipeg Jets name was used it would set a precedent in North America and pro athletes could go to the team of their choice disregarding free agency rules. There are two ways that the Jets name can be used by TNSE . If Betman orders a player in compensation from Coyotes to Jets thus a trade for Doan, (and we think that would be so cool). Or if TNSE uses the name Manitoba Jets. Manitoba Jets is a new sports team name and Doan’s old team, Winnipeg Jets, is not in existence thus legal problems are gone.We’re not entirely sure how free agency works, but it seems as though there’s a bit of an argument that he has. Of course he goes on to state he would like to see the team named the Manitoba Polar Bears.
  3. One other argument for using the Manitoba geographical moniker over Winnipeg, is that the provincial government is the mortgage backer of the MTS Centre and so would pay homage and respect to the government that has put its faith and risk in a facility.

We’re not entirely sure about the free agency issues that could pose a problem, but the Manitoba Jets could work as a team name. Of the three we listed here, it’s definitely our favorite and the favorite of others if the Winnipeg Jets name isn’t a contender. What do you think?

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Marshall Stevenson regularly contributes to one of the best Winnipeg Jets blogs as an editor and co-founder while also working on JET FUEL – a documentary about Winnipeg Jets fans. Of course he's also behind the only official, unofficial Jets fan gear site. And as if he wasn't busy enough, a co-host on the popular Winnipeg Jets focused Jets Hockey Podcast.


  1. bob

    June 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Actually, Manitoba Jets is a pretty cool name!!!

  2. Matt Kozlowski

    June 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    The Shane Doan Clause seems dubious to me. I can’t disprove it, but it just sounds odd and I’m calling BS on that. It’s a weird technicality that I can’t see being upheld in court if there were to be some kind of lawsuit/free agency issue.  

    The Cleveland Browns came back even though that franchise moved to become the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had players that “used to be Cleveland Browns” and they didn’t have to give anything to Cleveland.

    • Anonymous

      June 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      I second the BS call on the Shane Doan Clause.  Having the same name doesn’t mean it would be the same legal entity.  Doan never played for or had his rights owned by the Atlanta-Winnipeg franchise. 

      That’s like saying I can’t name my kid Barack Obama because it would invalidate the presidency of the United States because Canadians (and presumably infants) can’t be president. 

  3. Nick Drjrie

    June 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t understand how Shane Doan would he a problem. Surely he isn’t on the sake contract as 15 years ago, and surely nobody could possibly think that the name determines the franchise as opposed to sticking with the same organization? If the Rangers and Islanders swapped names they wouldnt he trading liabilities and assets, so why would players follow he name?

    • Matt Kozlowski

      June 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      On a different note, I think there’s a hang up for some people because Shane Doan has only ever played for one franchise the Jets/Coyotes — as if that really matters or makes a difference.  Yeah it’s a neat story, but nothing would be ruined if the Jets came back in a version 2.0. The fact would remain that he only played for one franchise. Mike Modano was the same way, until he ruined it with the stupid Red Wings farce this season, even though there was another Minnesota team that came back.   People are thinking too much into what a team name means, versus what an organization or franchise means.

      Names, team colors, and even home cities can change. But until a team is contracted, that franchise lives on.

      Having said that, it seems from most of what I’m reading that Winnipeg Jets is the will of the people. They should make it so, lest a Go Jets Go chant break out opening night for the Polar Bears/Moose/Thrashers/Warriors/Etc.

  4. Tony

    June 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Doan isn’t the last Jet (though he is the only one still with the Jets/Coyotes franchise). Nik Khabibulin is a former Jet as well (although if Winnipeg wants him back, they can have him). 

    • DucksFan2k11

      June 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm

       And Teemu Selanne…

      • Tqoj

        June 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        Teemu was a Mighty Duck when the team moved to Phx

  5. Anonymous

    June 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    What about Selanne? wasnt he drafted by the jets?

    • Tqoj

      June 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Teemu was a Mighty Duck when the team moved to Phx

  6. Andrew Lanktree

    June 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I think the new name should be something powerful and unstopppable unique to Manitoba like the Manitobor or  Winnipeg Flood.

  7. guest

    June 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    lets go with Manitoba Cheifs and have a big indian skull and headdress staring straight at u for a logo.

    that would be siiiiick

    • Luke Miguez

      June 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      No way Chicago would have an issue with that.

    • Patch_me_in

      June 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm


  8. Benjamin Theiss

    June 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Bleh. Winnipeg Walrus is the team they should be. Jets makes no sense. Sounds almost as bad as Kansas City Royals

  9. DucksFan2k11

    June 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Shane Doan is not the last Winnipeg Jet in the league.  Currently you have Teemu Selanne and Nikolai Khabibulin both are still playing (or at least did last year…not sure if they are retiring this offseason).  

    • Tqoj

      June 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      Teemu Was not a Jet when the franchised moved he was a Mighty Duck

  10. jt

    June 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    The Shane Doan idea is entirely incorrect.  The obligations follow by franchise, not by team nickname.  

  11. Awalz

    June 3, 2011 at 2:25 am


    • Patch_me_in

      June 8, 2011 at 9:57 pm


  12. Tugnutt

    June 3, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Kris Draper would fit into the Winnipeg Jets who are still in the league.  Everyone forgets about Draps.

  13. Jrsoda7

    June 3, 2011 at 2:39 am

    The Atlanta Thrashers of Winnipeg

    • olan

      June 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      That wouldn’t work. They are in Winnipeg not Atlanta.

  14. Ash Slaughter

    June 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Doan is not on a Jets contract, he did not sign a 16 year deal when he was drafted. The Winnipeg name would not be an issue in any sense.

    [I am not your laywer]

    I was partial to the “Winnipeg Rebels” name, give a bit of a glove tap to some history of the area (Louis Riel, the General Strike, etc) 

  15. gamblor

    June 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    re: Shane Doan clause: this is pretty poorly researched.  Why?  Nikolai Khabibulin.

  16. Tqoj

    June 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Khabibulin Is still in the league as well in Edmonton and Would fall under this clause as well

  17. Guest

    June 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    That Shane Doan “rule” is factually incorrect. There is no such clause.

  18. Nelson McDonald

    June 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Manitoba Bears or Ice Bears would work and use the polar bear as the logo. This is a symbol of MB that I think everyone could agree on.

  19. J.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    “Moose” would be a HORRIBLE name! Anything but that.

    We want Winnipeg’s new team to be first-class, bold, and intimidating.

    “Moose” is minor league. Bush league. An era most want to forget!

    • Luke Miguez

      June 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      You apparently have not run into a Moose in the wild.  Either way, it does evoke ‘minor leagueness’.

  20. Tamara Harland

    June 6, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Manitoba Jets, Rebels, or Gold. The sticky thing though with the Rebels is that Red River College are the Rebels. MB Jets could work as the fans would still chant Go Jets Go but the marketing overhaul is still there. MB Gold could also work due to the Golden Boy, the gold mines and the mint. Plus, you have instant cross marketing options with the Blue Bombers and Winnipeg can truly be the home of the Blue and the Gold!!!

  21. Patch_me_in

    June 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    What about the MANITOBA MAVERICKS?
    It has the same conatation as Rebels in evoking Louis Reil,
    It evokes MAVERICK from TOP GUN
    which was a great movie about FIGHTER JETS and their Pilots.
    Plus it uses aliteration.
    I count at least 3 positives for MANITOBA MAVERICKS!!

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