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The NHL’s deputy commissioner makes the case for a non-Jets Winnipeg franchise name

When I think about the fact that the Winnipeg team has yet to choose a name for itself, and has been more than willing to sell season tickets, bring in the team’s presumptive captain and trot around the NHL’s deputy commissioner without doing so much as offering a hint as to whether the beloved Jets name will return, I’ve got to admit that the whole concept is a very Manitoban one. Never rushing, the team’s building its identity from the front office on out, restructuring, and in many cases, making fresh starts and clean breaks from the Atlanta Thrashers’ franchise. I think that the team will probably be quite happy to absorb most of the Thrashers’ up-and-coming players, but at the same time, it seems pretty likely that a free agent or two will join the team’s ranks without donning a team jersey as this team’s displaying a Nicklas Lidstrom-like level of refusal to be rushed.

If anything, they’re all but repeating their ownership’s decision to slowly and steadily court a franchise while keeping their cards in their vest pockets, and in a way, it’s impressive as hell to watch the team be embraced while its management takes shape and asks its fans to simply wait to know the face of its object of affection.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was in Winnipeg on Thursday, and he told the Winnipeg Free Press’s Ed Tait that True North Sports and Entertainment isn’t anywhere near making a decision as to the mail order bride’s countenance…

The real decision will be left to True North bosses Mark Chipman and David Thomson, although the league would have to approve any logo/nickname/branding change.

“Ultimately we do, but great deference is given to the local ownership to choose its identity and its colours,” said Daly during a visit with the media Wednesday afternoon. “You have to be sensitive to the other teams in the league and their images and identities and make sure what’s being created is a distinct identity. But beyond that it’s pretty much up to the club.

“I know a little bit more today than I did yesterday (about the naming issue) but, no, I don’t think that decision’s been made yet. It really hasn’t. Part of the presentations today was going through the team identity and the possibilities there. Mark still has a lot of good options in that regard and I’m sure he’ll come to rest at some point with his partners on what they want to do.”

And while Daly told the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen that the NHL won’t stand in the way if the team chooses to purchase the Jets name back from the NHL, he made a very good case for breaking away from the Jets name:

Daly, in town for meetings with True North Sports and Entertainment, saw some of the possibilities for the team name, but wouldn’t divulge them.

“I know a little bit more today than I knew yesterday,” Daly said. “But I don’t think that decision’s been made, yet. Part of the presentation today was going through the team identity and the possibilities there. Mark (Chipman) still has a lot of good options in that regard.”

While the NHL owns the Jets name and is willing to give it to Chipman, the chair of True North, Daly points out the team’s competitive history, including team and individual records, belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes.

“One of his concerns about the Jets’ name and identity is that he really doesn’t own his history,” Daly explained. “The Phoenix Coyotes, if you look in their year book ... their franchise records are all players who played for the Jets. And they’ll continue to have that. They maintained those rights when they relocated from market to market. He hasn’t indicated that pushes him away in any material way, that’s just a point of fact.”

It’s not prairie province polite to suggest as much, but this adopted Manitoban who was made in Detroit suggests that they ain’t gonna be called the Jets, no way, no how.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



You’re right, George. It looks like we’ve got some bright ownership this time. As for the name, I’m all for a change here but I’m in a minority, it seems. One letter writer to the Wpg Free Press suggested the “Winnipeg Winters,” which I like because the name would strike fear into the hearts of opposing hockey players, but it’s not a serious consideration. ‘Warriors’ might be, since that is a former name of the junior team that operated here for many years. Co-owner David Thomson is deeply immersed in our fur trade history—his dad once owned Hudson Bay Co.—so that might be a source for a name.

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 06/10/11 at 10:22 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by manitobaredwingfan on 06/10/11 at 08:22 AM ET

Winters…. I’m not sure if I could take another noun like the “Wild” as a team mascot in the league.

Interesting point on the Hudson Bay, the Winnipeg Beaver Pelts would be hysterically awesome.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/10/11 at 11:18 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Equally, I’m not sure the Winnipeg Chichillas would strike fear in anybody’s heart.  Do they still use weasel fur?  Think about it—their logo could be a lawyer or a politician.

True story—one of the British Elite League (the word ‘elite’ is used VERY broadly in this context) used to be called the Basingstoke Beavers, until the Canuckistanis on the team pointed out that may not be the best team name to use.  They’re now the Basingstoke Bison.  When my adopted Elite League team, Belfast, was formed, there was a naming contest—you can’t imagine how many wags suggested the Belfast Bombers.  For obvious reasons, it was never used (though I thought it actually could be an excellent name if it weren’t for the implications of The Troubles), opting instead for the Belfast Giants, after the Giant’s Causeway (named for Fionn MacCumhail) up the coast.  Theo Fleury played one season there, and if there’s one player you might seriously call a Bomber…

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/10/11 at 12:33 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Of course, the best team name EVER still remains the now-defunct Macon Whoopee.  Their logo actually had a bird and a bee on it.  Beat THAT.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/10/11 at 12:35 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I’m still pretty sure they won’t be “Winnipeg”, they’ll be “Manitoba”.  They’ll want to keep the more-regional branding the Moose had.

“Moose” is stil very much on the table by the way, from my understanding.

Posted by Primis on 06/10/11 at 12:53 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Possible name for the “new” team in Winnipeg?

How bout we honor the NHL’s esteemed commish and call them…..

  The Manitoba Midgets  ??????

Posted by Down River Dan on 06/10/11 at 02:10 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Coyotes are going to get relocated eventually or the team dissolved so Daly encouraging the new owners in Winnipeg to change names is insulting to the fans who want them to use the Jets name again. The Coyotes don’t need the Jets name and who owns the naming rights? the NHL, bettman/daly law firm? Funny how Daly said they would give the new owners the Jets name if they really want it, lol. Sounds like if they grease his palms they can get it back.
One thing I do know is that no new NHL owner is going to want to keep the Coyotes naming rights when they move unless of course bettman’s buddy Bruckheimer gets his Las Vegas team, lol.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 06/10/11 at 03:57 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Thrashers is the perfect name for a team in Manitoba, one of the leading producers of wheat in North America.

Posted by RWBill on 06/11/11 at 04:33 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.