Winnipeg Jets: 5 Reasons the Name Should Be Used and 5 Reasons It Shouldn't
With the announcement of the NHL's return fading into history and the season ticket drive over, Winnipeg hockey fans are now turning to their next order of business and asking what their new hockey team will be called.
The popular choice amongst Winnipeggers—and hockey fans—is the name of their former NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets.
Gary Bettman has already come out and announced that the name is available to the new team if they wish to use it, which paves the way for the Jets to finally return home, right?
However, depending on who you ask, the Winnipeg Jets name not only won't be used, but shouldn't be used.
Several other names have been thrown out in the past few months, most notably the Winnipeg/Manitoba Falcons and the current name of Winnipeg's AHL franchise, the Manitoba Moose.
On top of that, according to some sources the Jets nickname is not even the preferred nickname of the hockey team's new owners, True North Sports & Entertainment.
So what will this team be called?
Here are five reasons the Winnipeg Jets should return and five reasons the Jets should never take off.
Reason It Should Be Used #5: History
The Winnipeg Jets nickname was originally used in pro hockey in 1972, when Winnipeg landed a franchise in the newly formed World Hockey Association.
However, what a lot of people don't know is that the Jets name was used before this by a team in the Western Hockey League. The WHL's version of the Jets played between 1967 and 1973, before changing their name to the Clubs.
Along with the Jets nickname comes a long and cherished history for most Winnipeggers. Many can tell you stories from their childhood when they went to the Winnipeg Arena to watch Bobby Hull or Dale Hawerchuk play.
To many, the "Winnipeg Jets" name embodies the history of hockey in Winnipeg, and for these people it would be a major mistake by TNSE to ignore this.
Reason It Should Be Used #4: Brand Recognition
Ask a hockey fan from, say, Los Angeles, who the Manitoba Moose are, and you will likely get a confused look and a reply along the lines of: "Are they a really terrible rock band?"
Ask that same hockey fan who the Winnipeg Jets were and most likely they will be able tell you the names of the team's biggest stars.
The Jets nickname carries an amount of recognition with it that none of the other suggested names can come close to matching. Many hockey fans know (or at least have heard) of the Jets, even if they cannot locate Winnipeg on a map.
It has been reported by some that one of the major reasons the NHL does not want a team in Hamilton, for instance, is because American teams would have a hard time selling tickets to games if fans saw a team from "some city in Canada" on the marquee. The same fate would likely befall a team named the Manitoba Moose, or something similar.
However, put the Winnipeg Jets name up on that marquee and fans would likely recognize the name and its unique place in NHL history.
This level of recognition is something that cannot be ignored by the team's owners.
Reason It Should Be Used #3: Popularity
Take a look at the photos and videos of the celebrations in Winnipeg after the announcement that the NHL would be returning was made.
Fans are not chanting "Let's go as-of-now-unnamed-hockey-club!" and wearing Winnipeg Eventually-A-Logo-or-Something-is-Going-to-Go-Here jerseys
Fans are chanting "Let's go Jets!" and wearing Jets jerseys (some of which have likely been around since the team still existed).
Not a whole lot of people showed up at Portage & Main wearing Moose jerseys and celebrating the promotion of the team from the AHL to NHL.
Reason It Should Be Used #2: The Alternatives Kind of Suck
Not a whole lot of the alternatives suggested for Winnipeg's team roll off the tongue like the Jets nickname does. Let's take a look at a few of the most popular suggestions:
Manitoba Moose—the most likely alternative is actually a decent name. However, if you walk up to a Winnipegger in a bar and strike up a conversation about the Moose, you probably won't get far. Strike up a conversation about the Jets and the Winnipegger will most likely buy you a drink.
(Note: I haven't actually tested this. They might just tell you about their childhood.)
Winnipeg/Manitoba Falcons—another popular alternative, this nickname pays tribute to the first team to win hockey gold for Canada at the Olympics. (Random trivia: they won it at the summer Olympics. And people say hockey in the South can't work...)
Another good choice, but the history of the name cannot compare to that of the Jets, mostly because it is a relatively obscure homage. The name is also used by the Atlanta Falcons, and I really don't think Winnipeg needs to rub it in any more than they already have.
Winnipeg Gold—wait, what? A name championed by TSN, it pays tribute to the fact that the Jets' signing of Bobby Hull (the "Golden Jet") ushered in a new era for professional hockey.
The gold colour is also used by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, so there is some connection there, but the name just sounds ridiculous and the jokes about the team being named the Gold and coming in second (or 25th) would get old really, really quickly.
Winnipeg Threshers—get it? Because the team used to be named the Thrashers, and because Winnipeg thinks they are actually Saskatchewan. It might just be me, but puns should never be used to name a pro sports team.
Winnipeg Whiteout—"Trust me, guys! It is going to be great! Can you just imagine it? We'll have them play in completely white jerseys! When opposing teams come to town and they see both the crowd and the players dressed all in white, they'll be traumatized! Wait, what's that you say? Home teams have to wear their dark's at home now? Ah crud."
Manitoba Rebellion—seems to me like this would be more fitting for Jim Balsillie's team.
Winnipeg Polar Bears—no. Just no.
Countless other names have been thrown out there, but instead of wasting your time further, I'll just sum them up: They are all terrible.
Reason It Should Be Used #1: It Is What the Fans Want
Last but not least, the main reason the new team should be called the Jets is because it is what the majority of the fans want.
The Jets nickname is already used to refer to the team by citizens, and merchandise is already selling. If TNSE named the team something else, it is likely that many fans would still go to the games wearing the colours of the Jets.
One of the suggested means of picking a new team name is through fan voting. In that case, Winnipeggers have already spoken.
Reason It Should Not Be Used #5: The History Isn't All That Great
When you take off your blue-and-red tinted glasses and look at the history of the Winnipeg Jets, there really isn't a whole lot of history to be proud of.
Aside from the three Avco Cups during their time in the WHA, the Jets spent the majority of their years as a whipping boy for the more powerful teams of the NHL. They missed the playoffs six times and did not win a playoff series after 1986-87.
The Winnipeg Jets record in the NHL stands at 506-660-172, with 4,762 goals scored compared to 5,347 against.
Of course, any talk of the Jets' history must also include a mention that the Jets technically still exist as the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes still use the Jets' old records as their history, and so instead of sharing their history with that dreaded team from the desert, TNSE might just create their own identity to create their own history.
With an admittedly poor Thrashers franchise moving to town, TNSE might want to create their own team instead of continuing with the demons that come with the Jets nickname.
Reason It Should Not Be Used #4: Why Not Start Again?
Ask any Winnipegger who was around in 1996 about how the city has changed in the past fifteen years, and they will tell you that nearly everything about the city is different.
The city has started to thrive economically and the demographics of the city are changing rapidly as the city is growing; the same thing can be said about Manitoba as a whole. Winnipeg now has one of the strongest growing economies out of any city in Canada and for all purposes this is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
With that said, why doesn't TNSE start fresh?
Some might say that a new city deserves a new team. The Jets nickname embodies many things to many people, however one of the most common ideas associated with the Jets is that they were always the underdog team: a small-time team, playing for blue-collar fans in a terrible arena against teams from more fortunate areas of the continent.
This isn't necessarily a reflection of Winnipeg and Manitoba anymore. The team has a new arena, the city is growing at an unprecedented pace and the fans are benefiting from the stronger economy by having more money to spend.
With all the change and growth that Winnipeg has experienced in the last fifteen years, it might be time for them to let go of the Jets nickname. It is a relic of the past that no longer reflects what Winnipeg is.
Reason It Should Not Be Used #3: The Fans Won't Care THAT Much
The big news last week was not that the Winnipeg Jets were coming home—that was something that was added later by fans and the media.
No, the major news was that the NHL was simply returning. No promises were given as to the name.
That said, the fans obviously expect the team to be named the Jets, and one could argue that a lot of fans would be angry if the team is named something else.
But would a new name really drive away any fans? Really?
If TNSE announced tomorrow that the team would be named the Falcons, there would be an obvious backlash against them due to the disappointment of the fans, but that would likely all die down once the team hit the ice.
Tickets will still be bought. Merchandise will still be sold. The team will still be as beloved as the Jets were because Winnipeg will finally have the NHL back.
The major news is that the NHL is back. Aside from that, the name really doesn't matter.
Winnipeggers will grow to love any name.
Well, unless they name the team the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Then there could be trouble.
Reason It Should Not Be Used #2: Manitoba over Winnipeg
With this new franchise, TNSE has a chance to recognize the entirety of Manitoba as the home of the team, and not just Winnipeg. Let's face it: While Winnipeg is home to roughly two-thirds of Manitoba's population, it is not large enough on its own to host a NHL team.
However, the population of Manitoba as a whole is a little bit larger than that of Calgary or Edmonton. It might not sound like much, but the team will be drawing considerable support from outside of the city in order to stay afloat.
The return of hockey to Manitoba's capital would not be possible if it weren't for the rest of the province as well. TNSE has a chance to recognize this, even if they change the name to the Manitoba Jets.
Reason It Should Not Be Used #1: It Is TNSE's Team
The main reason the Jets nickname should not be used is that unless the name is determined through a fan vote, the final decision rests with True North Sports & Entertainment and its owners, David Thomson and Mark Chipman (pictured).
Much has been said about how TNSE would like to keep the Manitoba Moose name for their NHL franchise, and rightfully so. They have invested a lot of money in running the Moose and building up the team's brand within the city, including building the MTS Centre back in 2004.
These two men have kept professional hockey alive in Manitoba and are the reason a team will be returning in the first place.
With all the time and effort they have put into bringing NHL hockey to Winnipeg, it is understandable that they might want to take this opportunity to create their own team, with its own legacy and brand, rather than simply continuing with someone else's.
And quite frankly, considering all they have done for Manitoba, the least people can do is let them name the team whatever they want.
Conspiracy Theory: Bettman Doesn't Want the Jets Back
As a bonus slide for you most paranoid of Canadian hockey fans, I present this (joke) argument: Gary Bettman simply does not want the Jets name back.
Because the very premise of the "return" of the Jets probably keeps him up at night crying.
It is one thing for the NHL to return to a Canadian city, but it is an entirely different matter when the entire city wants to bring back the team's old name and history. That's not justice for Winnipeg—that's a slap in the face.
The simple matter of fact here is that Bettman will not let Winnipeg Bill walk away with the victory on this one.
Even if it is a small victory, Bettman is no doubt scheming a way to withhold the Jets nickname if TNSE approaches him and asks for the rights.
"Oh, you want the Jets name back, do you? Well I'm sorry, but I just promised those rights to a new expansion franchise in Albuquerque."
It will be an interesting wait for the official unveiling of the team's name. Whether it be the Jets, the Moose, or the Kwijibos, Winnipeggers will no doubt come out in droves to support their new team.
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