Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

From one Jet boss to another... 100,000 thank yous

Chipman proud of ties to air force, gives military charities $100K

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Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman made it clear Tuesday he won't be bullied into apologizing for the organization's use of a military symbol for the team's look and logo.

And to show his True North Foundation's commitment to the relationship with the Royal Canadian Air Force, the NHL team's governor showed up at 1 Canada Air Division Headquarters on Tuesday and made the first instalment of a $1-million donation the team has promised to the forces' charitable and support causes.

The first $100,000 delivered by the team to Maj.-Gen. Alain Parent on Tuesday will see the Soldier On Fund and the Military Families Fund split $75,000, with the rest going to the Air Force Heritage Fund.

"I've always tried to be respectful of everybody's views on any issue or of those who opposed anything we've ever done but I would say I'm completely unapologetic about our alignment with the RCAF and Department of Defence," Chipman said Tuesday.

"I think we're the beneficiaries of this in being able to take the history and the meaning of that roundel and put it as part of what we're doing, which is far less significant an enterprise.

"I'm very proud of it."

The criticism of the Jets' look and use of the stylized fighter jet inside the roundel has been somewhat muted, but it does exist.

Some fans -- but apparently not all that many since the Jets logo is said to be the No. 1 seller in the NHL this season -- have said they simply don't like it.

Other organizations have inferred there's something untoward with True North's deal with the Defence department, either in uncovering rather ordinary use conditions through freedom of information requests or suggesting military themes and sports aren't an appropriate match.

Chipman said Tuesday the commitment of donations was True North's idea, not the Defence department's demand or request.

"I've heard a little (criticism) but not much in a long time," Chipman said. "We've had a solid relationship with the Department of Defence for 10 years now, nine of them preceding our alignment through the logo. We have long since felt... I'm not sure if it's a responsibility... I'm not sure how to characterize it but we've enjoyed partnering with and acknowledging their efforts.

"It was a very logical extension of what we had been doing. It just fit. It just made sense when we were trying to, as I keep using this term, authenticate, align ourselves to something very tangible. It was a very natural, a perfect fit.

"We were looking for a way to link our name to something that had some history and had a real meaningful existence in Winnipeg."

Including the 2008 game where True North's Manitoba Moose of the AHL honoured the Olympic-gold-medal-winning 1948 RCAF Flyers with a special roundel-clad jersey, the fit has been a natural one, Parent said.

"This represents a lot of pride and recognition in what we do in service of the country," he said. "Every member of the RCAF joins to make a difference to their fellow citizens, be it doing a search-and-rescue mission or to help during floods here in Manitoba. And when our government calls upon us to go elsewhere, our people are ready. Just like the hockey team needs to be ready when it goes on the ice for a game.

"Being in the RCAF, it's all about teamwork. It's all about being in physical shape and also we want to be connected to the city and right now there's nothing more that connects the people to the city than the Winnipeg Jets."

And Parent said Winnipeg is an entirely appropriate place for this connection.

"When I took command of this air division, I didn't know anything about this (logo) negotiation," he said. "But I knew that Winnipeg was particularly friendly to the air force with the naming of its two sports teams."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

patience: Jets boss C2

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2012 C1

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