True North hasn't ruled out 'Jets' name

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:58 PM ET

WINNIPEG - We still dont know what Winnipegs new NHL franchise will be called and it looks like it could be some time before its revealed.

Many have suggested True North Sports and Entertainment would want a clean break from the past when it comes to naming the team, but chairman Mark Chipman was adamant on Tuesday that Jets isnt out of the conversation.

No, not at all, said Chipman. Its been somewhat frustrating ... and we havent been able to engage in that subject. We will do that now. We havent ruled out any name. Weve been very, very focused on concluding this transaction.

We know theres lots of passion around the name. Thats how I got into this business in 1996, was the passion I felt, my family felt, for keeping the Jets here. So I get the name. I get the brand, I get the passion around it. Were going to study it real carefully. Well do our best to make the right decision.

While many names have been making the rounds, from Manitoba Moose to Manitoba Falcons, co-owner David Thomson shared his two cents when asked about the sentimental choice of many in this province.

I think the Jets is a fine name, Thomson said in a rare interview. Its obviously something were going to have to be thinking long and hard about, and swiftly. Thats something for Mark and his team.

Chipman said one of the things being discussed in choosing a name was a fan vote.

When it was suggested by a reporter that True North would want a name and logo in place to present to the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft next month in St. Paul, Minn., Chipman said making the right decision is the most important thing.

I dont know that we actually have to have a logo done by the draft, said Chipman. Were going to focus on that seventh overall pick, not what jersey hes got on. Were not going to rush through a design process just so we can show up in Minneapolis and put a jersey on that doesnt reflect our brand, our culture and our community.

Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, said the name was up to Chipman and company.

And if they were interested in Jets, the league would certainly allow it, without charging a penny for the rights they own.

Ive heard both sides of the argument, one is the sense of the history and tradition, the other is time for a clean start, said Bettman. If in fact they decide they want to use the Jets name, we will make it available to them. But thats a call they are best able to make, being here in the market.

There were also stories circulating on Tuesday that Manitoba Polar Bears was being considered.

One name it wont be is Winnipeg Thrashers, as Don Waddell told reporters during a conference call that the Atlanta Spirit Group kept the name in the transaction.


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