When the Winnipeg Jets unveiled their new logos last week to show off just how the team will be represented, opinions seemed to be split as to whether or not fans liked it. It seemed as if you either loved them and felt they were ideal for the rebirth of the team name, or that it was hackneyed and tried way too hard to impress.
There are some who felt otherwise about the design, however, thinking that perhaps it took the whole military look and inspiration a bit too far. If you didn’t know, the Jets’ new logo used the designs of the Royal Canadian Air Force to help them come up with a look of their own. The Jets are even making a donation to Canadian forces leading some to think the team is just leasing the logo’s design.
With those sorts of tie-ins and outer involvement, noted hockey blogger Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner is more than a little concerned with how closely hockey and the military are involved. Benjamin makes note that while nationalism and hockey are often paired up in Canada, the Jets’ new look hits home a bit too closely and with too much of an obvious purpose.
The line between supporting the troops and supporting the miltary mission is becoming too fine for me. Nationalism and hockey have always been impossible to separate in Canada, but that has not necessarily been a good thing for the game (or the country, for that matter.) Xenophobia held hockey back for a long time and international competitions seldom bring out the best in the Canadian fans.
The new Jets logo is a weapons system superimposed on a flag inside a military insignia. Cool, eh? Who couldn’t support that?
Benjamin’s points here are curious and more than thought-provoking. He cites Don Cherry’s shout-outs to the troops during Hockey Night in Canada and how being proud of them and their sacrifices are a noble thing to do, but mixing the nationalism and the hockey is getting to be a bit much.
Arousing national or even local pride in the sport is a very big deal in Canada but in the NHL on the whole it’s not a foreign concept. The Columbus Blue Jackets are named for the Union Army in the Civil War and currently have the Ohio state flag as part of their logo and uniform. The Ohio flag also gives off a majorly American feel being red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. The Calgary Flames have both the Canadian flag and the Alberta provincial flag on their uniforms, one on each shoulder.
Even in the past there was the Quebec Nordiques whose uniform colors were that of the Quebec provincial flag with the fleur-de-lis included on it and everything. Trying to keep local tie-ins or national ones has been tough to do in some cases. Hell, you could even dig into Canadian junior hockey with the Brampton Battalion which is full-on military inspired in its own right.
In short, teams are going to find inspiration for their teams from anywhere possible and finding ways to market the teams will be equally creative. That’s not to say Benjamin doesn’t have a reason to be fretful, his reasons are solid, but perhaps not taking things to be so serious would be a better way to look at it.