Winnipeg NHL team name likely weeks away

While there’s no doubt Winnipeg NHL fans are swooning over the hopeful return of the Jets, True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) has continuously said they’re far from releasing a name, let alone a logo.

While we’re waiting for TNSE to announce even a name, we figured we’d take a look back at history. Especially since history has a way of repeating itself. We’ll look at three teams that have gone through a similar process – Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. These three are the most recent, relocated franchises in the NHL.

Chronologically from oldest to most recent comes the Quebec Nordiques. Now known as the Colorado Avalanche, it took the fans a long time to know the team name after the sale of the Quebec City NHL franchise was announced in May of 1995. The ownership group didn’t publicly announce the team name and logo until August 10 of that year. There were well founded rumors of the name being the Avalanche in July after many focus groups, public fan polls and research but no confirmation until mid-August.

Then our beloved Winnipeg Jets who ultimately became the Phoenix Coyotes. While it was known since mid-December that the team was moving to Phoenix, there was no initial team name given. The owners of the franchise conducted a “name the team” contest and unveiled the team name and logo on April 8, 1996 with the team jerseys being unveiled August 26.

And last but not least, the Hartford Whalers move to Raleigh, North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes. The team name and logo were unveiled on June 16, 1997 after it was announced at the end of March the team would be leaving Hartford.

When we break down the naming of the franchises, not even taking into consideration the logos and jerseys, it averages out to just over 12 weeks (~89 days).

  • Nordiques to Avalanche: 10 weeks (~71 days)
  • Jets to Coyotes: 16 weeks (~114 days)
  • Whalers to Hurricanes: 11 weeks (~82 days)

If we go based on the average of 12 weeks, that puts TNSE announcing the team name, logo and jerseys on August 23, 2011. We know TNSE likes to do press conferences on a Tuesday, so that might make sense. Our gut tells us that it will honestly be until August when the name is finally officially released for public consumption, but are targeting August 9 or 16. August 9 would put it at the 10 week mark exactly from the date that TNSE announced the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers.

What can you take from this? You’ve got a long time to wait and it makes sense. Yes, we all want the Jets back – well most fans do at least. It makes sense to call them the Jets. At the same time, it also makes sense to not call them the Jets. In either case the amount of effort and work required to go into (re-)branding an NHL franchise is monumental. A brand is more than just a logo. While it’s true the logo will likely help sell merchandise and fan support, it needs to work with the vision and team goals (not to be confused by player goals and points).

Our recommendation is to sit back, gather on the deck and crack open some nice cold Fort Garry brew (or any other favorite cold, refreshing beverage) and enjoy the summer. The name will be the topic of conversation at many summertime gatherings and BBQs. You can tell them that you heard the team name will be Winnipeg Whiteout (OK, please don’t) and that you heard it here, there’s still time until the name is released.

Do you think we’re right? Can you stand another 8-10 weeks of waiting and wondering? Just think of all the speculation that can occur during that time.

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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.