Fans split on new NHL team's name

JASON HALSTEAD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:29 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The question of whether Winnipeg’s new NHL team should be named to reflect the city or the province has Manitobans outside the ‘Peg split.

While most said that regardless of the place name the team would be embraced by the province as a whole, some believe the provincial tag is needed.

“When they first started talking about the team coming back, I thought that calling them the Winnipeg Jets would be the best idea,” said Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson. “But the more I think about how this really does impact all of Manitoba, I think it should be named for the entire province.”

Both Blake Spiller, coach of the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, and Gimli Mayor Lynn Greenberg also said they want Manitoba on the team’s jerseys.

“I think they should be called the Manitoba Falcons,” said Greenberg, referring to the 1920 Olympic hockey champions the Winnipeg Falcons, a team made up entirely of Icelandic-Manitobans. “There are a lot of people from rural Manitoba who will drive in for the games and support the club.”

Crystal Oleschuk, Miss Manitoba for 2010, might be a resident of East St. Paul but she’s a city girl in her hockey heart.

“Winnipeg all the way,” she said. “I think it should be the Jets … It just brings back a lot of history, and I think we should stick with the city.”

Brandon’s city manager Scott Hildebrand said residents in the western Manitoba city are more worried about getting season tickets and lining up car pools than whether the team’s moniker reflects the province as a whole.

“Given the history and heritage, the Winnipeg Jets are still a Manitoba team even if they’re not called that,” he said. “The history of the Winnipeg Jets makes sense to keep it the same.”

While Peter George, CEO of Winnipeg’s McKim Cringan George marketing, said several options for the team’s moniker should be thoroughly market-tested, he was unequivocal about what the place name should be.

“My preference is Winnipeg,” he said. “Manitoba’s huge and diverse, but when you say Winnipeg, people know what it means because they’ve seen the city.”

Scott Brown, spokesman for the team’s owners, True North Sports and Entertainment, said they might be open to the public having a say in the name but “haven’t committed to anything,” and are more focussed on the season-ticket drive currently.

Possible names

A sentimental favourite tops a Winnipeg branding professional's list of monikers for Winnipeg’s NHL team.

Kyle Romaniuk, owner of Cocoon Branding, explained his immediate reaction to a number of possible names bandied around in recent weeks:

Falcons: “It has relevance to heritage as you can link it back to the Olympics, but I’m not sure how many emotional connections exist.”

Polar Bears: “There’s a lot of good things about polar bears and you can come here to see them, but do we want cold, ice and snow associated with the city year-round?”

Blizzard: “I like the aggressive sound, but I’m not fond of the association of ice and snow with Winnipeg.”

Moose: “I don’t like that it’s already affiliated with a different league. The brand esteem and equity is good for the current team, but not applied to the NHL. I don’t see any benefits.”

Threshers: “What’s a thresher?” Romaniuk asked, until his memory was sparked by a wheat-field image. “And it sounds similar to the Thrashers so it will create confusion.”

Mosquitoes: “Worse than the Blizzard. You think of squishing them. And they’re annoying. Is that what you want associated with your team?”

Jets: “People have all that emotion in the brand. You think of the costs of creating a new name, logo and brand identity from scratch, and trying to build up the esteem and equity to get close to where the Jets brand is at, and with the Jets you can just turn the key and you’re already there.”

Romaniuk said he’d go with Winnipeg as the place name for the team as all existing Canadian NHL teams use cities in their names.

— With files from QMI Agency


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