For a few more days, someone could claim to be an Atlanta Thrashers fan. Fairly soon, that will sound as dated as being a Winnipeg Jets fan once did. The Manitoba city is getting their turn at another NHL franchise after 15 years of no top-level professional hockey in a region that should have never lost their team in the first place. Then again, the NHL is not the same league it was in the mid-’90s.
So now that Winnipeg has its team back, does it automatically resort back to its old moniker or even the old logo? There are some nostalgic fans who would like nothing more, but given the energy for a new team and to brand itself for a new generation of hockey fan, the new Thrashers owner might want to think carefully before settling on any name. To choose one favorite is to alienate another.
Some fans are calling for the team to be given a regional feel like the Manitoba Jets instead of Winnipeg to signal a broader fan base and representation. That might be a smart move given the NHL’s emphasis on selling out the MTS Centre every night. Others are calling for the Moose name that currently describes the city’s minor league hockey team that is most likely to relocate as well to carry on the legacy of current hockey in the town.
Either way, there’s an excitement that’s nice to see after several yawn-inducing seasons in Atlanta. Of any of the major four team sports, hockey is synonymous with the regions that supply its players, and the expansion always felt corporate from the outset. It’s nice to see the shift bringing back hockey to a city like Winnipeg that should have never lost its franchise to Phoenix in the first place.