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With stadium uncertain, let's play the hockey team name game

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Long-suffering Winnipeg sports fans will celebrate a dubious milestone this week, as the stadium debate lurches into its sixth year.

The uncertainty surrounding a new home for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers began on Nov. 15, 2004, when former Bomber president and CEO Lyle Bauer announced the club was preparing to make a pitch to build a new venue.

"We have to find out first whether it's worthwhile or not to refurbish what we have. There's plenty of speculation, but we've got lots of options," Bauer told the Free Press at the time."If this doesn't work, we have to examine where else we could go and there are several potential sites that would fit if it would just be a stadium. There's tons of land in this city... there's property downtown, out by the university... "

When Bauer made those prophetic comments, he had no idea the football club would actually explore all of those options in sequence. Since he's now in Calgary, we'll leave the guy alone.

For those of you who remain, I have something to get your mind off the stadium saga: You can daydream about the NHL's possible return.

Winnipeg fans have been obsessed by the "return of the Jets" since the club left for Arizona in 1996. In honour of these poor suckers, here's some completely idle speculation about the nickname possibilities for a team that would play out of the MTS Centre:

 

The Winnipeg Jets

PROS: The preferred choice for many fans, "the Jets" will always be fraught with emotion, thanks to the club's 24-year history in the WHA and NHL.

CONS: This name may only be available if the franchise that winds up moving here is in fact the Phoenix Coyotes. Even if the 'Yotes do return, the club's history of NHL futility may lead eventual owner True North to make a break with the past.

 

The Winnipeg Victorias

PROS: The amateur Victorias won the Stanley Cup in 1896, 1901 and 1902. Bringing the name back would be similar to the revival of the Senators name in Ottawa.

CONS: That's an awfully feminine-sounding for a men's hockey team.

 

The Winnipeg Falcons

PROS: This amateur club won the Olympic gold medal in hockey in 1920. Reviving the name would go a long way in honouring their memory. Incidentally, peregrine falcons nest only blocks from the MTS Centre.

CONS: Atlanta already has the NFL Falcons.

 

The Winnipeg Warriors

PROS: There's some history with this name, too. The minor-league Warriors played in Winnipeg from 1955 to 1961, while the WHL Warriors played here from 1980 to 1984.

CONS: The WHL Warriors still play in Moose Jaw, Sask. And in an era when North Dakota has dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname and the Cleveland Indians sound simply racist, any name that appears to treat indigenous people as mascots is probably a non-starter.

 

The Winnipeg Arctic, Winnipeg Ice, Winnipeg Tundra

PROS: A geographically appropriate, northern-themed name would allow the new club to use a polar bear for a logo. This image would be a powerful marketing tool, both for the club and Manitoba as a whole. Consider the effective use of the stylized killer whale on the Vancouver Canucks' jerseys.

CONS: Great marketing, but the name itself is kind of dull.

 

The Winnipeg Voyageurs

PROS: This historically appropriate name comes with a multitude of logo possibilities, including canoe paddles sharpened into hockey sticks. And think of the merchandising, which could include Voyageur sashes, Voyageur caps and Voyageur boots. The Minnesota Vikings are the template here.

CONS: The farther you get from the Prairies and Great Lakes, the less the name voyageur means. And Festival du Voyageur might have an issue with some of the imaging.

 

The Winnipeg Wolverines

PROS: The name rolls off the tongue. The wolverine is an aggressive and very marketable critter.

CONS: Ever see Red Dawn? Enough said.

 

The Red River Flood

PROS: A simply awesome, geographically appropriate name.

CONS: Few people outside the Red River Valley will get the reference -- and it won't put Winnipeg on the map.

 

The Winnipeg Wendigo

PROS: Another geographically appropriate name, the Wendigo would honour indigenous culture in a respectful way. And the possibilities for monster-based logos are fantastic.

CONS: Few people have heard of the wendigo, a cannibalistic creature from Algonquin mythology.

 

The Winnipeg Buzz, Winnipeg Swarm

PROS: We have mosquitoes. Let's embrace them.

CONS: Not many people share my sense of humour.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 14, 2010 A3

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