The Winnipeg Jets flew into the modern era with a supersonic boom Friday, unveiling a series of new logos that eschewed the design aesthetic of the team's previous incarnation in favour of a militaristic feel based on the Royal Canadian Air Force.
While some fans lamented the fact that the franchise may not wear its historic jerseys when it takes to the ice this coming season, others hoped the new look would be a symbol of a fresh start unencumbered by the Jets' difficult past.
The primary logo will feature a blue circle with the metallic grey silhouette of a CF-18 fighter jet overtop a red maple leaf, echoing the roundel that graces the fuselage of Canadian air force planes. One of the secondary logos contains a stylized set of wings like the ones given to fighter pilots.
The look was developed with the help of the Department of National Defence as a nod to Winnipeg's connection with the air force, as exemplified by 17 Wing, which operates out of the city.
“We wanted to do something that authenticated the name Winnipeg Jets, rather than just a new artist's take on it, we wanted to link it to something meaningful,” said Mark Chipman, chairman of team owner True North Sports & Entertainment, in an interview on TSN. “There's been such a rich and deep history in our city for many years with the air force.”
He said the team would consider issuing a vintage jersey in its second season, but did not have time to do one immediately.
The colours of the new logos, while slightly different from their forerunners, are largely the same. They also happen to coincide nicely with the famous air force scheme of blue, red and white.
The new jerseys have not yet been unveiled, but the team is already selling T-shirts and hats, and fans queued up outside their store in downtown Winnipeg Friday night to snap up the first ones issued.
Some took to social networking sites immediately after the announcement to gripe that this had been the real motivation behind changing the logo: to generate merchandise sales. Others, however, lauded the idea of moving forward.
“Everyone's got to leave the old logo behind and start anew,” said Lauren Robb, who maintains a Jets fan website. “It will take some time for people to get used to that, but I like it.”
Sitting in a bar a few blocks from the site of the arena the new team will soon call home, Graham Hartwell could understand the desire for change. After all, the construction worker pointed out, the jumbo-jet that graced the old Jets jersey wasn't exactly a top-of-the-line plane these days.
“I think they should retain the old logo but make it a little more modern,” he said.
At a sports bar in the city's north end, one man who had followed the team since its early days in the World Hockey Association was less thrilled.
“I was happy with the old [logo] we had it for so long,” said the man, who would give his name only as Junior. “I'd rather they didn't change it.”
Over the last few weeks, many fans created their own logo proposals, most of them riffing on the team's previous look. One blogger, Gabriel Desjardins, reached even further back in time to design one based on the old Monarchs, who played nearly 100 years ago. In a city that last won the Stanley Cup in 1902, he reasoned, it made sense to look to the most successful years for inspiration.
Still, he understood the reasoning behind the new look. The team had opted to take the historic Jets name, so why not express the desire for newness with a rebranding?
What's more, he isn't exactly enamoured of the 1990s logo.
“The '90s logo was kind of after the team was good,” he said. “It looked very dated. I don't know that people would have pulled out the old jerseys.”
And, as Chipman pointed out, the Jets' logo history doesn't exactly mirror that of other franchises, like the Habs or Bruins, who kept the same logo from their earliest days.