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Winnipeg Jets unveil their new threads

September 6, 2011

 

At long, long last.

Finally! Today, the Winnipeg Jets came forward with their brand new jerseys for the 2011-2012 season. The team is “new” and the jerseys are new. True to what the management of the Jets and True North, had told us all along, these sweaters don’t resembles the old Jets’ in any way. Not in any way, shape or form. It’s a fresh start for the team. They’ve jumped as far as possible from the Coyotes, from the Thrashers. What the merits of this distancing of identity are I won’t delve into. But I do want to discuss these jerseys. And the way in which they were put on display today.

First off, I want to say that military men and women do good work–those in the US, those in Canada (so, you probably know where this is headed). And I want to say that these are decent jerseys. Indeed, they beat about 1/3 of the NHL in terms of the strength of their iconography and styling.

But, but, this has all gotten way, way, way too militaristic. Having Andrew Ladd and his crew emerge from a cargo plane on a tarmac? They’re really embracing Canada’s armed forces. As if having a fighter jet and maple leaf weren’t enough, they had to go the full nine yards here have the shindig on a military tarmac. I know about Winnipeg’s history and presence of the air force, and I respect their desire to honor these men and women. But through a sports team? Sure, there are bunches of teams that reference the military or fighting in their names or logos, but none quite like this. It demeans the work the military does do. It’s an easy homage. Give money, donate tickets and engage with the military community. Don’t just throw them a jersey with a fighter jet on it. It’s a political statement in every sense of the term to choose to unveil the logos where they did. And frankly, it’s all still a bit confusing.

I have a feeling the management decided to stick with the Jets thinking it was wise, fan-tested and approved and convenient. Once they threw themselves head-long into the task of branding, they couldn’t look back and went for the full military look. It couldn’t be the 70s cartoon of the old Jets. It had to be filled with realism. Too much realism.

That’s the thing about the best NHL logos: they carefully tread the line between utter realism and symbolism. The Jets’ new logo is neither and both, and kind of just bland. The colors and the rest of the jerseys, finally made public today, reflect that. The colors look so much like those of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ third jerseys. I wish there were more red, in honor of the old franchise. And I wish the blue was a cobalt instead of a navy. I really like the white ones more, especially the blue yoke strip with the double elbow strikes. The navy is simple, straight-forward, uncomplicated.

And for a team with baggage and a city with baggage, the more straightforward and uncomplicated, the better.

The military represents predictability, stability, along with the usual bevy of strength, determination and accountability. The military is reliable, it is unadulterated. So are these logos: nothing fancy, nothing spectacular. Just simple.

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