Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets stuff hot stuff

Merchandise featuring old team flying off retailers' shelves

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Feel like casting your vote for our new NHL hockey team's moniker with Winnipeg Jets paraphernalia?

You'd better hurry down to your favourite retailer because jerseys, T-shirts, hats and other items bearing the Jets' logo are being snatched up almost as quickly as they can be put on the shelves.

"People are still going crazy for Winnipeg Jets stuff," said Randy Tesluck, manager of Royal Sports. "The day that (True North Sports & Entertainment) announced they were bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg, we sold out of everything we had. We were lucky, because we had ordered some items earlier and they came in (that afternoon)."

He said the store has sold out of subsequent orders and he has but a sparse selection of shirts, jackets and hoodies left.

"It's been ridiculous. We've said to our suppliers, 'Whatever you have, we'll take,' " he said.

River City Sports has experienced the same kind of Jets stream. Zak Rubin, its retail general manager, said his three stores are only now receiving more stock after selling out of virtually everything Jets-related after the May 31 news conference.

"It's been unbelievable. Jets stuff has been the hottest in the store, ahead of Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins (merchandise)," he said.

While Winnipeggers have been loading up on anything and everything to do with the Jets, it appears nobody in town, including True North, has been benefitting financially. Scott Brown, director of corporate communications at True North, said the NHL has been the one reaping the profits.

"Not only does the NHL own the team name but they own the franchise itself. The Manitoba Moose never received any residuals from sales of the old Winnipeg Jets merchandise," Brown said.

It's still not known when the new team will have a name, and neither Tesluck nor Rubin have heard from True North regarding the much-anticipated merchandise.

Tesluck said he's been told jerseys won't be available until three weeks after the name and logo are unveiled.

"You'd think the retailers would have an inside scoop when (True North) would say what the team is going to be called so we'd have product on the shelves. But as far as I understand, that's not going to happen," he said.

Rubin said the first place fans will likely be able to buy the new team's paraphernalia is at the retail store at the MTS Centre. If mass-produced items aren't your thing, you may find what you're looking for at Joe Daley's Sportscards. The former Jets goaltender has glassware, mugs, programs, media guides and pictures.

Some of his favourite shots are the official team photos from the WHA years, as well as the last Jets goal ever scored. (Trivia answer: Norm Maciver scored the lone Jets goal in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the 1996 playoffs.)

"I've got a picture of the puck hanging in the net. I've probably sold 50 of them. I'm the only one that's got it. I got the negative from a kid I went to school with who took the picture," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2011 A3

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