The release of the new logo for the Winnipeg Jets stirs up some controversy

Flying High
John Cameron

True North Sports and Entertainment probably saw or could have seen this coming when they decided to stick with naming Winnipeg’s team the Jets.

Like the Expos or the Nordiques, the Jets logo is regionally iconic, representing both a sense of part of a city’s lost cultural fabric and a sense of pride in the place nonetheless. Wearing Jets apparel meant that, lousy or not, the Jets meant something to you, goddamnit.

So, of course the company was going to catch a bit of heat when it unveiled logos that had almost nothing to do with the old one. While the aerodynamic-looking text-based logo bears some resemblance to the classic hockey-stick-and-passenger-plane icon emblazoned across the merchandise of the dearly departed O.G. Jets, the other logos, well, don’t.

Instead, there’s a logo that co-opts the air force-style wing emblems, crossing two hockey sticks over top, and a logo that basically borrows the Royal Canadian air force roundel wholesale, slapping a CF-18 fighter jet in the middle.

There’s a lot to dislike here – the roundel is too busy by half, while the other logos are seriously compromised by the ornately pointy maple leaf that True North decided was the best way to maintain consistency across the brand – but there’s also a lot to like too, like the stylish muting of the classic red and blue colouring and the subtle, sleek aesthetic of the wings-based logo. The logos aren’t all created equal, but the better ones show a willingness to try to stick to the Jets’ visual roots, while also striking out to create a new identity for the team.

Tying that identity to Canada’s military, though, has proven to be divisive. In an article in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight on July 26, activist Derrick O’Keefe took True North to task for perpetuating what he sees as an increasing capital-C Conservatism and jingoism in the hockey community.

“The fighter jet over the maple leaf is a fitting symbol for the Stephen Harper era,” O’Keefe wrote. “Not only did he manage to win a majority government while promising to spend untold billions on a new generation of F-35 bombers, but he has also presided over a steadily creeping militarism throughout Canadian society.”

In Regina, prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth has also mused on his paper’s blog about the subtext of the Jets’ new, martial logo. While praising the aesthetics – and, it should be noted, writing that he liked it overall – Whitworth called the logo “too pro-military.”

It’s a tough question – can you bring in militaristic aspects of design without being jingoistic? The circular logo definitely doesn’t make the cut, since it’s not even clear that it belongs to a hockey team. However, the wings-based logo – the clear standout of the three – manages successfully to conjure up ideas of discipline and romantic military attitudes and ideals without also bringing to mind some kind of Simpsons-esque “Yvan Eht Nioj” subliminal messaging.

Of course, True North hasn’t just borrowed military imagery. They’ve bought it. The CBC reported on July 24 that the company is donating one million dollars over the next decade to unspecified “military charities”. Though veterans’ charities are indisputably worthwhile, the lack of information here might lend something to O’Keefe’s accusations – it’s a classic “support our troops” manouevre.

But look. O’Keefe watches Don Cherry and doesn’t have the urge to go sign up for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Neither do I – and neither do a lot of Carillon staffers or our friends, who cringe whenever Cherry embarrasses himself by saying something that isn’t about hockey or dogs. And, while there are a lot of impressionable youth out there, there are plenty of responsible parents who will give those youths an idea of the difference between a hockey team and a military, which as of this writing is still a matter of commercial entertainment versus a bunch of people with guns who have “shoot dudes to death” in their job descriptions.

And besides – if they’re going to go with a jet, they might as well go with a military jet. Would you rather have a logo that reminded you of long delays, screaming babies, and puking?

Me neither. Go Jets.

Loco Logo
Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

The National Hockey League has announced their return to Winnipeg and, although the original name will be coming along for the ride, the logo will be left in the dust.

The original logo for the Winnipeg Jets, who made their first stint as an NHL team from 1979-96, was that of simplicity, or rather an instant classic that should never have been messed with. However, no one told that to True North Sports and Entertainment, who felt that a new logo was necessary in order for the team to have a new identity. If a new identity was so important to these people, then you would think that they would have elected to change the name entirely. Instead, it was just the logo that suffered.

Having a new identity is one thing, but having a hideous logo is quite another. The new logo for the Jets is absolutely appalling and seems to get uglier every time that you are forced to look at it. I can’t imagine what it will be like to see 20-plus guys with the new logo plastered on their jerseys, not to mention a stadium full of fans that feel purchasing an article of clothing with the new logo on it makes them a hardcore Jets fan.

Upon first glance at the new logo, after your initial gag reflex has settled, you begin to appreciate what a complete artsy over-the-top mess it truly is. The new logo appears to take on a much more militaristic feel than the original one. In fact, the trilogy of logos that Winnipeg plans to use have a similar theme. They all involve an overly complicated maple leaf, complete with shading to add disgusting depth and some sort of jet reference, be it wings, a full outline, or quite simply the word Jets.

Some people may wonder how the original Jets logo, which appears to have little or no connection to the air force, suddenly became overwhelmed by it. I am one of those people.  

Unfortunately, there was not just one terrible logo, but rather a trilogy. One main logo, which of course is the most distasteful, followed by two other logos that one can only hope will be used sparingly. All three of the newly released logos, which have an appeal similar to a face that only a mother could love, vary in their degrees of awfulness. It is my opinion that the worst logo out of the three has got to be the one that, for some reason, is a circle layer, followed by a pointless artsy maple leaf and then followed by a jet outline. Although it is relatively clear that I despise all of the logos, I have a certain hate for that particular one.

There is quite simply no way that I would pay any amount of money for any article of clothing with any of the new Jets logos on it, even if one was given to me I would cringe every time that I put it on. It would be one of those gifts that you wear once around the person that bought it for you and then never wear it again.

The clean lines and bright colours of the original logo would make any fan proud to be sporting it. I wish that I could say the same for the new logo. Has anyone else noticed that the new logo looks as though the old colours went through the washer a few too many times, or is that just me?

The pure logic behind the new logo continues to baffle me. Claiming that the military feel makes the logo authentic is just a poor excuse for a horrible logo. The sad part of this logo controversy is that young kids who are only just beginning to watch the NHL will grow up thinking that this vomit-worthy logo is the original. However, these kids will also not have to deal with the agony of knowing what the Jets logo once was and what it could have been.

Fans of the Winnipeg Jets will have to continually remind themselves to be thankful that they even have a team again, as the hideous fate of their logo seems to be sealed.

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