BTLNHL #15: Winnipeg Jets
The second Canadian team in the BTLNHL countdown is the Winnipeg Jets, coming in smack-dab in the middle, at #15. It’s also the last team in the Southeast Division to be included, giving the division the honour of being the weakest division in the league in terms of logo design. Winnipeg, the most hockey-est of those markets, takes the division title.
But, it’s fitting that the Jets come in at #15 because it’s pretty middle-of-the-road logo. There’s some good things happening with the logo, but it’s, well, a bit bland. This would be an exquisite logo for the Winnipeg Jets if the Jets were a curling team, as the logo portrays as much excitement as a curling match. This is nothing against curling, which can be enjoyable to watch (or comical, if you’re watching the Norwegian men’s team), and it’s even better to play while intoxicated. But this logo should be built for hockey.
A bit of context: The logo was inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Force logo (no kidding, you think?) which has extensive historical and physical ties to the city of Winnipeg. This connection was emphasized when the jersey unveiling occurred right on the Air Force base. So, a fighter jet mixed with the RCAF logo makes sense conceptually.
A bit of context based on my own suspicions: True North, who owns the Jets, wanted to name the Jets something else so as to create a brand new identity for the team, not based on anything from their former incarnation from 1972-1996. Names like the Falcons (another salute to the past), Polar Bears, Moose and Whiteout were rumoured to be in the running. But, the people of Winnipeg, ecstatic that the NHL was coming back to the city, held mass celebrations after the formal announcement of the NHL’s return, and they basically demanded that they bring back the Jets, not only in spirit but in name as well. My guess is True North already had plans and designs for a completely different direction (my gut says the Falcons) but after having amassed so much good will for bringing back the NHL to Winnipeg decided not to mess with it. A new logo and uniform was quickly needed (which would explain why they didn’t have anything ready until well into the summer, and after the draft) and kind of slapped together in haste. Of course, this is all my guesswork, but it seems to make sense. Note: I found this article of a short interview with the lead designer that basically confirms how rushed a process the whole thing was. At one point he says they didn’t really have any other working concepts for the jersey, which to me, seems completely nuts for a project of this size and stature.
For a rush job, it’s not a bad job. But, there’s still hints that this was a rush job. The layering of the fighter jet over the maple leaf seems lazy, and actually can be misconstrued as something else. The inclusion of the maple leaf at all is also curious. I can understand it when included on a Canadian team logo that’s predominantly an American sport, like baseball or basketball. But a sport like hockey, which is second only to poutine in a Canadian’s heart, it’s becomes something else. The Jets are not “Canada’s team”, like the Blue Jays or Raptors, and the use of the maple leaf seems either a lazy inclusion (“Hi there, we’re from Canada!”) or too heavy-handed (“Hi there, you’re Canadian? Not cheering for us is like spitting in the Queen’s face you scumbag!”).
The jet itself is a bit bland as well, not really instilling an idea of speed, velocity or strength. Rather, it’s more of an icon that’s placed there because it was convenient and necessary. Perhaps using the two tones of grey to show off some of the contours of the jet would give it a little more personality and positive qualities. It seems the time they spent creating shadows and contours on the maple leaf should have been spent on the jet.
Here’s a very quick, rough version of a revised logo with the jet changed (without actually researching the contours of the plane being shown, so be gentle on me), the pointy tail of the leaf taken out (I’ve never seen a maple leaf with a tail like that myself) which allows the jet to get a little bit bigger, and the shadows on the leaf decreased a bit to let the jet take centre stage. I’m not even sure I like it that much, but like Tiger Woods, I’m just messing around. But it gives the jet a little more personality.
Okay, I’m starting to talk myself out of ranking the logo this high, but sometimes that whole is greater than its parts. Like I said earlier, although it’s a rushed job and some of the details need to be worked out, the concept is there. It also gains points for trying to connect itself very closely to the community and the identity of Winnipeg. If you look at other relocated sports teams, the teams don’t make any effort whatsoever to identify itself with its new locale. Have you ever seen a grizzly bear in Memphis (originally from Vancouver)? Or, when did you last visit that jazz hotspot,Utah (originally from New Orleans)? Of course, Winnipeg’s hand was forced a bit with the Jets’ legacy – a “Winnipeg Thrashers” announcement would have created mass hysteria and riots in the city – but it still deserves commendation. And it’s a refined and minimal logo that’s trying damn hard to be iconic before its time, which earns respect.
And the colours palette works well. Two tones of blue (on the jersey), mixed with grey and a splash of red looks pretty slick. It feels like a more refined and contemporary version of the old Jet’scolour scheme.
There’s one part of the logo that I love, love, love. The little wedge removed from the top of the blue circle to make room for the nose of the jet is actually a small piece of design genius. It does two things: (1) it allows the jet to have more presence within the logo than it otherwise would have, and (2) it creates a recognizable design element that is unique to the rest of the league and instantly connects any other design with this element directly to the Jets. It’s something all brands die for, and it is easily my most favourite part of the logo. Note: The wonderful Melissa Martin opened my eyes with the now-obvious information that the removed wedge also represents a compass, and of course, it’s pointing True North. Much thanks to her and a facepalm for me.
Ladies and gentlemen, the newest team in the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets, comes in at #15.
The BTLNTL Countdown Posts
BTLNHL Finals: Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings
BTLNHL #3: Philadelphia Flyers
BTLNHL #4: St. Louis Blues
BTLNHL #5: Montreal Canadiens
BTLNHL #6: Pittsburgh Penguins
BTLNHL #7: Chicago Blackhawks
BTLNHL #8: Toronto Maple Leafs
BTLNHL #9: Phoenix Coyotes
BTLNHL #10: Vancouver Canucks
BTLNHL #11: Edmonton Oilers
BTLNHL #12: New York Rangers
BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames
BTLNHL #14: Buffalo Sabres
BTLNHL #15: Winnipeg Jets
BTLNHL #16: Minnesota Wild
BTLNHL #17: New Jersey Devils
BTLNHL #18: Nashville Predators
BTLNHL #19: Carolina Hurricanes
BTLNHL #20: New York Islanders
BTLNHL #21: Ottawa Senators
BTLNHL #22: Tampa Bay Lightning
BTLNHL #23: Columbus Blue Jackets
BTLNHL #24: Washington Capitals
BTLNHL #25: San Jose Sharks
BTLNHL #26: Florida Panthers
BTLNHL #27: Dallas Stars
BTLNHL #28: Los Angeles Kings
BTLNHL #29: Colorado Avalanche
BTLNHL #30: Anaheim Ducks