If you ask many observers, True North Sports and Entertainment would be crazy not to name the relocated Atlanta Thrashers the Winnipeg Jets.
First and (you would think?) foremost, it’s what the fans want. Yes, it’s true that True North already banked on a staggering commitment from locals to look up 13,000 season tickets for multiple years in the blink of an eye. Still, merchandise sales* and general fan happiness are factors they should absolutely keep in mind and naming the team the Jets will leave a lot of customers pleased.
On the other hand, True North has some reasons to shy away from the Jets name. One big reason would be that they want to make it their own team, so piggybacking on an old idea might take some of the personal satisfaction away. Perhaps a more pertinent reason to go with a different title is that some might think that the Jets name carries a stain of failure with it. Maybe the best way to avoid a similar fate is to wipe the slate clean altogether?
Andrew Ladd sees both sides, discusses restricted free agent status
The Winnipeg Sun caught up with Andrew Ladd to get his take on the subject. Ladd makes an interesting brain to pick; he was last season’s team captain but also remains an unrestricted free agent. If he follows the team to Winnipeg, would he prefer to be a Jet, Moose or some other wacky mascot? It seems like he understands the logic from both sides of the equation.
“I’d love it. It’s got history,” Ladd, the first member of the former Atlanta Thrashers to hit town, said, Thursday. “I was talking to (former Chicago teammate and Winnipegger) Cam Barker the other day, and he was like, ‘There might be a riot if they go in a differnt direction.’ I’m a big fan of the name.
“But it’s a new group, and I don’t think the success was there in the past and we want to start something new here, too.”
It’s interesting to get his perspective on the team’s new mascot, but it’s probably more important to focus on his thoughts on free agency.
Scheduled to become a restricted free agent, July 1, Ladd told reporters he hasn’t begun negotiations on a new contract with Kevin Cheveldayoff, but likes what he heard of the vision of the newly hired GM Thursday morning.
“And I trust it, too, which is a big thing,” Ladd said. “You need to trust people you’re going to work with and know that you’re in good hands. I have a lot of respect for Chevy and looking forward to working with him.”
Ladd’s negotiations could be rather interesting. He’s a restricted free agent, so much of the power is in Winnipeg’s corner. It might come down to how close the team thinks he’ll come to matching his surprising 29-goal output from the 2010-11 season.
Can Ladd duplicate his success from the 2010-11 season?
There are some reasons to think he can approach that level in future seasons. He reached the 49 point mark in 08-09 (just 10 short of last year’s 59) and he has the pedigree (Carolina made him the fourth overall pick of the 2004 draft) to indicate that he could be a legitimate producer. This was also the best chance he had to produce at the NHL level; he played a little more than 20 minutes per game in 10-11 (almost six minutes more than his career time on ice average of 14:23).
Then again, it’s probably true that he’s not an ideal option as a first liner. He also produced those numbers in a contract year, which is always a red flag for teams weary of getting burned.
Will Ladd be a Jet or whatever True North names the Winnipeg team? Could he play somewhere else entirely in 2011-12? We’ll find out the answers to both questions soon enough.
* – Some people might counter that a) people already own a bunch of Jets memorabilia and b) they’ll likely gobble up merchandise anyway, but a simple logo re-design would solve those complaints anyway. Say what you will about the “Buffaslug,” it didn’t exactly slow down Buffalo Sabres jersey sales. Plus, let’s face it: it’s pretty tough to mess up a logo that involves jets.