WINNIPEG - Thousands are signing their own names in an effort to keep the Jets’ name on any NHL team in Winnipeg.
Former Winnipeg Jets season ticket holder David Kehler started the online petition last fall as speculation mounted about True North Sports and Entertainment purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes. Now that TNSE is working on a deal to bring the Atlanta Thrashers north, he said the petition has received more than a thousand signatures in the last week.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 3,200 had signed the petition to TNSE, which states, “We, the undersigned, respectfully suggest that if Winnipeg once again becomes home to an NHL team, it should be named the Winnipeg Jets.”
The petition, online at www.gopetition.com/petition/39649.html, argues that any other name tosses away decades of history.
“The Jets just meant so much to me and I can’t see the logic in going with a different name,” said Kehler, 42.
Kehler said he’d buy season tickets no matter what the team is called.
“It would just be that much sweeter if it was the Jets,” he said.
Jonathon Trenchard, 25, was only nine when he attended Save The Jets rallies at Portage and Main. While his first-hand memories of the Jets may be fuzzy, his attachment to the name has only swelled since the team left.
“I can barely remember the team but I think they’ve grown in Winnipeggers’ hearts,” he said.
Winnipegger Brian St. Clair said a new name could be painful.
“If they come back and they’re not the Jets, it would kind of tear your heart out again,” he said.
Various online polls, including one conducted by the Winnipeg Sun last week, showed a majority of voters were firmly behind the former name.
Mayor Sam Katz said last week he believed a new team would not be called the Jets but rather “the Manitoba something.” While Katz said he would prefer the old name, or allowing the public come up with a new name, he said the decision is ultimately up to the owners.
Local branding experts aren’t as attached. Peter George of McKim Cringan George marketing said last week it’s time for a new name but also suggested team owners consult fans on the issue.