Save our Jets: New Winnipeg Jets logo sacrifices nostalgia for militarism

| July 26, 2011
Save our Jets: New Winnipeg Jets logo sacrifices nostalgia for militarism

There are the obvious stupidities.

In an era where vintage is cool and big government is not, the new Winnipeg Jets logo foolishly discards a popular classic and chooses instead something that looks like it belongs on an Air Canada safety brochure.

While hockey teams in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal labour to give everything a retro, classic feel (all five teams regularly wear jerseys that date back to the 60s, 70s and 80s), the old/new Winnipeg franchise has elected to abandon a look that maintained its popularity throughout the club's 15-year absence. Clever.

These would be minor offences, explained by the cynical desire to sell new merchandise, if the new logo were simply a cartoon duck or an abstract swath of colour. After all, no one knew what an Atlanta "Thrasher" meant, so the fact that the Jets predecessors played hockey in Jackson Pollack's paint smock was harmless, if a bit boring.

But there can be no mistaking the inspiration for the new Jets logo.

If the CF-18 fighter draped in a red maple leaf wasn't obvious enough, the team's new owner made no secret of the fact that the logo was designed in consultation with the Department of National Defence. In fact, Mark Chipman's comments in the unveiling of the new logo had more to do with the air force than the hockey team. He noted in the press conference that he only felt comfortable with the "Jets" name when he determined that he could re-brand the team around the RCAF.

In other words, my beloved Winnipeg Jets are being twisted into another cheap marketing ploy for the new Canadian militarism.

It wasn't so long ago that Canadians proudly believed ourselves to be citizens of peace. True or false, we took seriously the mythologies around Lester B. Pearson and our international role in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. These made us different, we thought, from our neighbours in the United States. Different and better.

But it's a new day for Harper's Canada.

Today, we cut funding for schools, hospitals and parks in order to build bombs, bases and, well, fighter jets. We barely bother to maintain the pretence that we are peacekeepers in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. There is, as I said many years ago, no peace to keep when you ride up in a jeep and you blow the bleep out of a wedding party -- which has happened more than once in Afghanistan alone. That country is more devastated, more dangerous and more impoverished than it has ever been -- a gift of our decade-long occupation.

Our posturing as ‘humanitarian' support in Haiti is an offensive lie; our military was an active participant in the overthrow of a democratic government eight years ago and there has been no semblance of justice or peace since. Our military's involvement in savagery and torture is well-documented, with the Somalia affair being among the most shameful. Our engagements in Latin America involve hiring thugs to murder trade unionists who demand better pay in Canadian-owned mines.

And jets -- now featured on the crest of the NHL's newest member -- are a cornerstone of Harper's military project. The purchase of obscenely expensive CF-18s was partly justified by Canada's demonstration of their utility in attacking Libya. After sitting quietly while people were slaughtered in dramatic revolutionary upheaval across the Arab world for months, Canada suddenly felt the urge to send fighter planes to Libya, where Suncor (Canada's second-largest corporation) feared its assets might be nationalized by the Gadhafi regime. Yes, CF-18 fighter jets are very effective at killing people from a safe distance, and in the hands of the Harper government we will use them to ensure the prosperity of our wealthiest multinational corporations.

It all starts to feel pretty George W. Bush.

As Canadians, many of us once defined ourselves by the fact that we weren't like that. But these days we are being taught to understand our Canadian-ness in a very different way. We're taught that instead of harbouring quiet confidence in our being good global citizens, we should be fist-pumping nationalists. That we're becoming one of the big boys in international affairs, and that we should be brimming with pride at all the good we do in the world, and that we should always, always, always ‘support our troops.'

And hockey, at the centre of our national consciousness, is the most fertile ground for sowing the seeds of this hyper-patriotic idiocy. What could be better than to have people associate the military with hockey -- the game so many of us live and breath. As such, Don Cherry's insipid weekly performances of ‘manly grief' over deaths of Canadian soldiers never once stop to ask why so many Canadians -- and so many more Afghans -- are dying in our occupation. CBC's hockey broadcasts relentlessly bombard us with images of the soldiers overseas cheering for their favourite team. Why do we never get scenes of Canadian aid workers or doctors watching hockey with sketchy antennas in a far-flung desert village where they are distributing medicine?

Because that doesn't serve the new national interest. Meanwhile, most Canadian hockey teams sponsor special military nights, ranging in intensity from spectacles of soldiers rappelling down from the rafters (war is really neat, kids!) to sombre moments of silence for the fallen, insisting that we take their deaths as sacrifices for our freedom. No space is allowed to ask ‘how is torturing prisoners in Kandahar protecting me?' or ‘if I'm so free, why do I get arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in Canadian cities?'

So into that cauldron of ideological brainwashing storm my Winnipeg Jets. Before they've even dropped the first puck, this team that I once cherished with all of my heart is being used to sell war machines.

When I was less than a month old, I was given a Winnipeg Jets toque. When I was 11, I met Teemu Selanne at the Winnipeg Arena. I was 15 when the Jets were sold to Phoenix; at 30 years old I still wear my Jets toque to work all winter. The Jets are a piece of me, a piece of my childhood, a piece I have always been proud of. Mark Chipman's desperate, pathetic pandering to a military that kills innocent people in my name will not sully those memories.

These are not my Winnipeg Jets.

Photo courtesy:

Tyler Shipley is a writer and researcher who teaches at York University. He is originally from Winnipeg.



I was given the exact same impression when I saw this logo. Nothing but patriotic military propaganda. I'm a long time Leaf fan who rooted for his home boys with as much passion as you describe with your beloved Jets. No longer though. Capitalism has taken over and when a man can't take his kid to a game without shelling out a weeks wages well, that's enough for me. To me, the whole NHL is dead. I won't even watch on TV and I'm very sad that it's come to this. I was very excited for Manitoba when the announcement was made, but after seeing the new logo I was very bummed out. Canadian Juniors is where it's at for me.

Let's fight militarism with phallic symbolism - use your imagination and let the social conservatives help us out!  One person sees wings and another sees the pads of a butterfly goalie with his crotch area exposed.  One person sees a plane over a maple leaf - another is reminded of the family cat in heat.

One person sees phallic symbolism and another sees what Harper is doing to our country.

great article, wish a local paper was willing to publish it.  i think many in winnipeg are dismayed with the new logo's military imagery.  And in a nation of immigrants, many who come from places where seeing that image meant you were going to be killed or maimed, it's not right.

there are many "jets" that aren't instruments of torture and death and i wish that was what was on the logo.

Is this article for real? As a CF member who has been to Afghanistan, I find this article misleading and offensive. For one, does anyone think the team was named after a passenger liner? It was named after fighter jets that are stationed in Winnipeg, just like the Bombers. To take offence to this is stupid. I'm pretty sure that the old Jets logos also had fighter jets on them. As for us "barely bother(ing) to maintain the pretence that we are peacekeepers in places like Afghanistan," our official role there is not as peacekeeper, but as war fighter. And to insinuate that we don't do anything "good" there is insulting. I personally had to help two children in stretchers from an armoured ambulance to a Chinook helicopter, where they were flown to Kandahar for emergency procedures, after they'd been blown up by an IED. An IED that was command detonated, which means someone had eyes on, and targeted them specifically. Believe me, some members of the Taliban are horrible people, and they'd be bombing their own people whether we were there or not; they were doing it before we got there. And it's brought up about CF-18s bombing in Libya, to protect the interests of Suncor. I don't really know what they're doing there, but if Suncor is our second-largest corporation, then I'd guess that it was one of Canada's largest employers, and if anything critical happened to them, our economy might take a hit. Sounds to me like the Canadian Government might be protecting Canadian interests abroad, which is one of their roles. And why shouldn't we "always support our troops?" Despite what we may think of government policy, the troops who are on the ground, in the air, and on the sea are there to ultimately do whatever it takes to keep this country safe. Just because one doesn't agree with Harper, doesn't mean that one should belittle and demean 60,000 or so men and women who are willing to lay down their lives for a wonderful country. The Canadian Government is "the boss" of the CF, but we citizens are "the boss" of our government; don't give grief to a bunch of people who are vicariously in our employ.

Not all of us in Winnipeg are thrilled with the new logo design and the reasons behind it. Check out this "tribute" video to the new logo and its blatant ties to the military:

Tyler, well said!

The owner of the Winnipeg Jets can choose whatever logo he wants for his team - it's his dime. But most Canadians are smart enough to see through the propaganda.

My grandfather was a motorcycle dispatch rider in France in the first World War, and my father a bomber pilot in the second. They both agreed that war was a cruel, sadistic game which should have no place in human civilization.

The Harper neocons, and their corporate friends, are promoting a silly, idealized form of militarism. They have no idea what real war is, or what the experience is really like, due to the fact that they have never been under fire themselves. They should be ignored.

Derrick O'Keefe has a good piece in The Straight on this topic.

This is shamelessly blatant as much as it is nauseating.

I don't know what happened to Canada.

The U.S. looks like the beacon of progression next to us now....I'm glad I live in a province that Harper can't seem to literally buy a seat.

Just another 4 years to go...How bad can things get?



You guys are right... we should never have sent soldiers to Afganistan.  We should let women and children continue to be raped and tortured in the name of an extremist portion of the Muslim faith.  It's OK for us to sit comfortably in our nice warm homes and write blogs on our expensive computers while human rights are being violated in countries on the other side of the world... why should we care?  We weren't asked to go to these countries to help protect people's rights.  And you are perfectly qualified to criticize the military since you've never been in any situation that would require you to make those types of decisions. 

You pick and choose what you want to see and hear to fit within your narrow-minded viewpoint and then accuse conservatives of doing the same.  You call yourself a researcher but you only research things that will fit into your existing viewpoint and you disregard the rest.  You use some data to represent the whole truth.  So what's the difference between your "news" and Fox "news"?  You're a joke.

Thanks Tyler!  That column just proved why our military is needed.  I guess at 30 you have no idea the sacrifices these people have done for our country in the 20th century alone.  You have to fight for freedom.  The military does that.  The world left Hitler alone for too long and he almost succeded at taking over the world.  We learned from past mistakes and when nut bars get too big for their britches the military steps in.  The reason you can write this dumb article is because of our military.  I hope you said thank you when you posted it.  Oh and by the way, I have never been in the military nor do I want to.  It takes a special person to be able to throw their life on the line for their country, so have some respect.

For all those who don't feel the need to support our troops.  Just remember that when that soilder is doing a 16 hour shift to sand bag Winnipeg homes and neibourhood.

PROUD Canadian

retch wrote:
We weren't asked to go to these countries to help protect people's rights.

No you certainly weren't, and you certainly haven't been. You were asked to go to Afghanistan to interfere in a civil war, to protect a pipeline route, and to help prop up the government of warlords and criminals that was installed as a compliant client of the George W. Bush government. Now tens of thousands of Afghans who had never heard of Canada before regard us as their sworn enemies. Doesn't that make you feel safe?

nilsson14 wrote:
It takes a special person to be able to throw their life on the line for their country...

No Canadian soldier in Afghanistan is fighting for Canada. Afghanistan was never a threat to Canada. Nothing has improved in Canada as a result of the war, and in fact things have gotten worse here because of it. It takes a special kind of person to go off to some faraway land to kill people just because some criminal politician tells them to.

roadhard wrote:
Just remember that when that soilder is doing a 16 hour shift to sand bag Winnipeg homes and neibourhood.

I support troops doing real work to help Canadians. I don't support them going halfway around the world to kill people on behalf of dictators and warlords. But then, I wouldn't expect you to understand the difference.

"After all, no one knew what an Atlanta "Thrasher" meant"

Ignoring the poor grammar, The thrasher is the Georgia state bird.   Pretty much everyone knew that.  Everyone, apparently, but the author of this article.  If he betrays his considerable ignorance so readily, how can we believe anything else he spews?  He's probably never even been to Winnipeg and just likes the sound of his own words.

There's nothing wrong with the grammar, and the state bird of Georgia is the Brown Thrasher, not the Atlanta Thrasher.

Apparently, however, your criteria for whether or not a person is ignorant are whether

(a) he or she knows what the state bird of Georgia is; and

(b) whether he or she has ever been to Winnipeg.

My criteria are quite different from yours.

The writer is originally from Winnipeg (see bottom of article).  Hard to say how many people know what a thrasher is.  Harder yet to care, since it's not what the article is about.

Leaked from TSN....


Quebec City team uniforms will feature green and red colours and the logo will be modeled after 'Canada's Economic Action Plan' billboards.

The team's name will change from Les Nordiques to the Harper Nordicks.

      This has to be a joke.  First of all before you write such an idiotic article, if you can even call it that, do a little research.  The team is called the "JETS" not the Royal Canadian Armed Forces first of all.  Second, if you cannot appreciate what the men and women of our armed forces do for this country you have one of two options, get out of the country, or as the bumper stickers say "If you don't stand behind our armed forces, feel free to stand in front of them." actually you could do both, it would benefit everyone.  Third of all, having played hockey all my life up until the Junior 'A' level I know that you will find teams named after just about everything, just because one of my teams was called "The Generals" does not mean that the Canadian government stuck their hands into this team so that every 6-19 year old was advertising for the military.  If your logic is correct and the Jets logo is being used as a form of Propaganda for the Winnipeg Jets to advertise for the Air Force, and the Canadian Armed Forces, than the New York Ranger, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and almost half of the teams in the CHL (meaning OHL, WHL, and QMJHL) would all have to change their logo's because they are all tied to either military units, or army terminology.  Also, take a politics class before you let it known to the whole internet and world that you are ignorant, the Conservative government has been putting money into our Canadian health system for as long as they have been in power and the education system is a Provincial responsibility, not a Federal.  Finally, after you have taken that politics class, you can take a history class, they were named the Jets and given an Air Force themed logo because of Winnipeg's rich history with the armed forces dating back to World War I and World War II when it was used as a training town for the Canadian Air force, amongst several other countries who used the town as well.  This is absolutely sickening, you and everyone supporting and promoting this article should be ashamed of yourselves for what you have written and what you are supporting.  Everyone who agrees with this article should go to the Highway of Hero's in Ontario and stand over a bridge, any bridge, and come and write this article or these comments again after you see a soldier come back after fighting for this country, and dieing for it, not their government.

P.S. To the so called "Toronto Maple Leafs fan" who has commented on this article, read a book on the Leafs history, the Leafs were purchased by Conn Smythe and named after the World War 1 army unit that he served in, and followed that by encouraging and allowing the whole team to enlist during World War II.  People like you and the so called writer of this article are the reason why future generations continue to be brainwashed by ignorance and stupidity.  I await the replies of those who agree with this article and getting to read the moronic comments that are left.

We don't have to wait for "future generations" to find people "brainwashed by ignorance and stupidity".


      Future generations as in, each generation more than the last, but if thats the only thing you could criticize than the real points of my comment have been made.

The original Jets were not named after CF-18's stationed in Winnipeg. That club received a huge media baptism (much of it by fire) after signing away Bobby Hull from the NHL  some 40 years ago. Hence, you have your "Jets" - a tribute to The Golden Jet. As a result, Bobby wasn't allowed to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, nor were any other new WHA signings.

Many recall the great Winnipeg clubs of the 1970's, and Hull's role during their heyday. To this observer, the Jets always represented the very best in hockey, internationally, as well. That team introduced some very talented non-Canadians into our game.

Sadly, lacking in this new graphic unveiling is no clear homage to those times, or to even what it is that originated the club in the first place. It becomes clear that real heritage gets lost when influential multinational corporations involve themselves in a new logo design. Reebok, I believe, was involved in this one.  Judging from how the NBA imposed a Raptor moniker and logo on Toronto over any local input years ago, this looks like yet another PR dictat from on high. The loyal hockey fans of Winnipeg are to be congratulated for reviving a great franchise.  In time, however, we may see the resurgence of the older graphic representation of the team. Hockey fans know their heritage. Corporations unfortunately don't.

Login or register to post comments