Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets fly with air force logo

Chipman unveils new symbols a little early after break-in, leak to web

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The Winnipeg Jets can trace the idea for their new logo back to a special 2008 Manitoba Moose tribute.

For several years, the Moose chose one home game a season to honour Canada's military and their families, and in that particular 2008 game, the focus was the 1948 RCAF Flyers. The result was a rich baby-blue jersey with the RCAF roundel.

Fast-forward to this spring and summer when True North Sports & Entertainment bought the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and moved them to Winnipeg to call them the Jets. The feedback from that special Moose night three years earlier led the organization to the new primary logo that was unveiled Friday afternoon.

The sky-to-ground perspective of a silhouetted CF-18 Hornet on top of a stylized red maple leaf forms the centre of the team's new mark. It is encased in a navy-blue and thin-silver ring. The jet points north and the notch on the inside of the ring signifies the compass that is key to True North's corporate logo.

"In '08, we honoured 1948 RCAF Flyers, and it was from that imagery we drew a lot of inspiration," Jets governor and True North chairman Mark Chipman said at a hastily arranged news conference late Friday.

Chipman said he became comfortable with the name "Jets" before the NHL draft when he realized the connection and the look that was possible with the air force roundel.

"We knew we were going with the Jets when we knew we could align ourselves to that look or feel," Chipman said.

He also said he was looking for something simple as the team's new brand.

"Our desire was to authenticate the name and make it as meaningful as we possibly could," he said. "In my view, the best way to do that was to draw a connection to the rich history that our city has enjoyed with the air force, particularly through 17 Wing.

"And the best way was to link ourselves to the iconic roundel."

The logo drew a mainly positive, though reserved response from a logo and uniform expert, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News.

"I'd put the logo pretty much in the middle of expectations," Kennedy told the Free Press Friday night. "It's not a home run, but it's not a tragedy, either. Keep in mind, for a lot of expansion teams, their first efforts were savaged by the public.

"The Jets are unique, in that every hockey fan in Canada knows the tradition of the old team, so certainly there was a different degree of difficulty. I understand the franchise's wish to start anew, but at the same time, I can't imagine anyone being disappointed if they had gone back to one of the classic Jets logos.

"Having said that, the new emblem has an 'instant classic' feel to it, so at least the team has a look they can go with for years without looking dated."

The unveiling of the new Jets logo had been quietly scheduled for Monday, but suspected criminal activity on Friday saw some of the team's merchandise containers broken into and, though the quality was poor, a picture of a Jets T-shirt had begun circulating on the Internet.

Chipman said there was plenty of credit to go around for the team's new look. That included the assistance of the Department of National Defence and Lt.-Gen. André Deschamps, the NHL and Reebok for the design.

He also singled out the Toronto Maple Leafs for graciously giving permission to use the maple leaf in the new Jets logo.

The Jets also opted for a look that did not try to duplicate or retain any of the former Winnipeg Jets' WHA or NHL symbols.

"We thought we had the freedom to try something new," Chipman said.

He said the team's game uniforms would not be revealed until they are produced in September, nor would the franchise have a third jersey in 2011-12, mainly because there was not enough time to design one.

As well as the primary logo, the team unveiled two secondary logos. One has the words "Winnipeg" and "Jets" in horizontal banners over top of a meshing of captain's wings and crossed hockey sticks. A red maple leaf separates the banners of "Winnipeg" and "Jets."

The other logo is simply a small "Winnipeg" above a stylized "Jets" in script, also sporting that red maple leaf.

Once revealed late in the afternoon, the team's merchandise store at the MTS Centre, now called Jets Gear, opened to a lineup around the corner from its Portage Avenue doors.

"I think we didn't order enough hats and T-shirts," Chipman said, when asked for his reaction to early sales.

The store will be open again today between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

New Jets forward Eric Fehr will be at the store signing autographs today from noon to 1 p.m.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2011 A3

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