Will the Winnipeg Jets exist?

Conceptual logos for the Winnipeg JetsDid you hear? The NHL is finally coming back to Winnipeg, and this time it’s apparently for good. The thing you may not have heard about is the team name. That’s right, when True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) announced their legal agreement to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers franchise from Atlanta Spirit (not Atlantic Spirit as the NHL commissioner said in the press conference) for a bargain $170 million, they deflected all questions regarding the future name of the franchise.

True fans want them to be called the Winnipeg Jets. There are a number of good reasons why to call them the Jets, even though the franchise that once was the Winnipeg Jets (the struggling Phoenix Coyotes) is still around.

Let’s be honest. The league and the ownership group are in this agreement to make money. Everyone that’s in business is out to make money and if they tell you otherwise, they’re lying. The NHL actually holds the trademark on the Winnipeg Jets (that was a smart move 15 years ago) and the league has already offered it up; of course for a fee. As NHL commissioner Gary Betman roughly said yesterday, “there needs to be a sellout every night in order for this to work.” That’s true, but it’s not where they make all their money. Licensing and merchandise are the big winners that provide the cash flow year round. In the case of TNSE, they also have the benefit of owning the MTS Centre so there’s a chance to make some money off of summer concerts, exhibits and more.

If we focus our attention on merchandise, it makes perfect sense to rename the team to the Winnipeg Jets. Why? Well Jets merchandise today is amongst the leagues top revenue generators. Not bad for a team that doesn’t even exist. If TNSE doesn’t rename the team the Jets then one of the long lasting cash cows of the NHL will drop. But like I said, everyone wants to make money. A new logo and revitalized brand can easily help accomplish that.

The Jets of old had four previous logos on their jerseys over the years. They’ve done it before, so why not do it again? People will buy. Winnipeg and fans around the world are eager to spend their money on something, anything with the Jets logo on it. Some people like retro jerseys (right Toronto) and some always want the latest and greatest. The fact is the fan base needs to approve and with existing Jets items in place, it will be easier to maintain the fans – something that’s vital to the teams’ success.

So just design another logo and move on? Not quite. It would definitely be easier if it was that way, but there are so many things to think about. Realistically, they need to design at least two for the public to fall in love with. Thanks to the alternate jersey aspect in play now, there’s a good chance that the franchise will be able to design a new logo every year, always keeping things fresh and creating a new revenue stream. Would I recommend that? No, but they could if they really wanted to.

There’s an argument that goes something like “merchandise sales will explode for a new team name, and still remain a little bit for the Jets name.” It’s possibly true, but if that’s the case, then the NHL gets all of the money for the Jets items and TNSE gets nothing. Again, it’s about making money.

Over the last few days there have been a number of names circulating that could potentially be chosen for the new NHL franchise in Winnipeg. The names, in no particular order, include team names like

  • Winnipeg Warriors
  • Winnipeg Falcons
  • Winnipeg Rebels
  • Manitoba Moose
  • Manitoba Bears (or Polar Bears)
  • Manitoba Gold
  • Manitoba Monarchs
  • Manitoba Jets
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Winnipeg Thrashers
  • Winnipeg IceMen

Our obvious favorite is to rename the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg Jets, though some of the others do have a favorable ring to them. Over the next few days we’ll explore each possible name…that is of course until TNSE announces a name.

Do you think that the team should be call the Jets or do you have another idea? If they weren’t the Jets, then what would you like to be screaming from the stands as the puck hits the back of the net and the siren screams?

Credit for concept logos: 1 – Johnny Griswold; 2 – soundlightserviceitaly.com; 3 – SyPhi Creations

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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.