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Winnipeg Jets Name Won't Return Even If Atlanta Thrashers Relocate, Says Mayor

Winnipeg hockey fans have been desperate to get their beloved Jets back since the team left for new opportunities in 1996. The city nearly brought the Coyotes back, which would've made for a seamless transition, as far as franchise history, branding and traditions go.

Can't they just re-name the Atlanta Thrashers the Jets? Nope, says Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz, who nevertheless speaks highly of the city's Jets heritage:

I can now tell you they will be called the Manitoba something ... I relate to the Jets, right from the start when Bobby Hull signed that huge contract on Portage. We had the best line in hockey with Hull, Nilsson and Hedberg. Our hearts were just torn when the Jets left.    

Pretty confusing move, unless he's let himself be entirely misinterpreted. Calling the team the Jets would be an automatic marketing win, tapping into decades of familiarity, while calling it the Manitoba Moose or Thrashers or whatever means starting up a whole new thing with some stupid new logo. It also means selling a lot of brand new merchandise, even though I have a feeling everybody would just show up in Jets gear anyway.

Announcing an imported NHL team would be a big deal, but announcing the return of the Jets would have to be just about the biggest moment in Winnipeg sports history (I am totally ignorant of Winnipeg's history). I've seen more than a few Winnipeg fans claim they'd rather have no team at all than have one called something besides the Jets. Works for us!

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.