Jets Jerseys Put ‘Win’ In Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Jets have always had pretty nice jerseys…

Except when the original (more or less) Jets moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes, embracing Southwestern kitsch for a few unfortunate years. Or when the NHL franchise that would become the current Jets existed in Atlanta, where for 11 seasons the Thrashers never wore anything that wasn’t ugly.

Since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, the new Jets have dressed — and played — much better. A first-ever trip to the conference finals this season gives the current squad a chance to show the world just how sharp the Jets look.

In the Beginning …

The first Winnipeg Jets were a junior team formed in 1967 in the Western Canada Hockey League. When the World Hockey Association, an upstart challenger to the NHL, came along in 1972, they grabbed the name — and the attention of the hockey world by signing none other than the NHL’s Golden Jet, Blackhawks star Bobby Hull, to a then-unheard deal that included a $1 million signing bonus.

Winnipeg won three championships in the WHA’s seven seasons, after which it was one of four of the struggling league’s teams to merge with the NHL. In 17 NHL seasons, the original Jets won exactly two playoff series.

Here’s a rundown of the major changes to that team’s wardrobe.

1972: The road jerseys were blue, with three stripes — two white and one red — at the waist and elbows. On the back, a white nameplate was stitched with red letters above a white-trimmed red number. The logo, “Jets” spelled in red, featured a stick-like “J” and the image of a skater in the negative space of that letter. The home whites added a blue shoulder yoke, while the numbers and logo were blue, trimmed with red.

1973: Essentially, the same jerseys with a new logo. This placed “Jets” in a circle, made the “J” look even more like a stick, blended the top line of the “E” and the “T” together, added the silhouette of a passenger jet in a puck-like circle above the “J” and “Winnipeg” in arcing red letters below.

1979: For their NHL debut, the Jets took on a new look — borrowing heavily from the New York Rangers’ old look. Former GM John Ferguson had put the Rangers in full-length sleeve stripes for the 1976-77 season and brought it with him to the Jets. White stripes trimmed in red ran from cuff to cuff over the shoulders of the blue jersey, blue trimmed in red on the white.

1990: The original Jets get their final redesign, which would hold until the Phoenix move in ’96. Simple, wide stripes at the elbows and waist made for a classic look, as did another home run of a logo — this one a sharp updating of its predecessor. The nose of a jet moved to the space to the left of the “J,” “Winnipeg” above the line formed by the top of “E-T-S.”

Riffing on the R(C)AF

The Jets took their time deciding to be the Jets again, making that call at the 2011 NHL draft. A month later they debuted their new logo, which, like the jersey on which it rests, they’re still using.

That’s a good thing. Though it doesn’t resemble the Jets jerseys of old, the current, classically simple one mirrors their best traits. The home jerseys are dark blue with lighter blue and white accent stripes at the waist and elbow. The road whites add a dark blue shoulder yoke that runs all the way to the wrists. But the best part is the logo, which deftly mimics that of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both logos feature a red maple leaf on a field of white inside a blue circle. The Winnipeg logo adds a gray fighter jet atop the leaf. You’d have to figure an alternate jersey is coming for the 2018-19 season, but when a team looks this good, they don’t need it.

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. Check out Pro Stock Hockey at https://www.prostockhockey.com/

 

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Two Budding Superstars Who Will Be Forever Linked

Matthews Vs. Laine; A tale as old as…two years. In 2016 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the draft lottery, and Leafs nation went wild. It was the biggest thing to happen to the franchise in decades, and it’s a moment I will never forget. With the first overall draft pick, the Leafs had the choice between two clear front runners. Arizona native Auston Matthews from the Swiss pro league and Patrik Laine from the Finnish pro league. Both players came into their draft years heavily hyped up, but Matthews was always the favourite to go first. It wasn’t until Laine’s stellar 2016 year where he got some serious recognition as a threat for first overall pick. He lead his team to a championship and was named Liiga playoff MVP. He also dominated the World Juniors and helped Finland win a Gold Medal. Very impressive draft year for Laine. But despite his recent accomplishments, Leaf fans were still drooling over the thought of drafting a Franchise center they haven’t had since Mats Sundin. Matthews amazingly managed to put up 46 points in 36 games for his Swiss team Zurich SC. While that doesn’t sound super impressive without context, its’ quite amazing for a teenager to do against grown professionals.

At the 2016 draft the Leafs made their selection – Auston Matthews. Patrik Laine went second overall to the Winnipeg Jets. At this moment, these two players who were both drafted to Canadian teams, would become forever linked. In a way similar to the rivalry between Crosby and Ovechkin, fans of both sides will argue to the death why one player is better than the other. And like Crosby and Ovechkin, it comes down to two very different types of players. The Elite Two-Way center who can carry a line, dominate possession, and make the players around him better (Matthews) Vs. the sharpshooting power forward with cannon shots and the ability to score from anywhere on the ice (Laine).

Production wise, these two forwards have had a remarkably similar start to their young careers. Here is a quick comparison:

Games Played        Goals        Assists        +/-

Matthews                     139                   70               53             23

Laine                             149                   79               53             16

Almost 150 games into their career they are posting nearly identical point totals. It couldn’t be scripted any better, save for a face off in the Stanley Cup finals. So did Toronto make the right decision? Of course they did! One must remember that Matthews has accomplished these insane numbers while centering the Leafs top line, a position much more defensively responsible and harder to learn than being a winger. In a vacuum, a similar center will always be more valuable to a team than his winger counterpart. That’s not to discredit Laine who is ripping wristers and one timers past goalies at an incredible 19% shooting percentage this season, not too mention in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy. But when you watch both players play, you see Matthews as a driver of offense, and Laine as more of a passenger. Matthews uses his beastly strength on the puck and stick handling skills to drive possession, and he’s no slouch in goal scoring himself, with a full season pace of over 40 goals once again. Laine relies much more on his teammates to set him up, and powerplay where he has more room to get his crazy shot off. Give me Matthews skill set every time. Fun fact – Auston Matthews has scored more even strength goals than any other player in the league since he was drafted, and that’s including the time he’s been injured. That’s how good he is. If (when) he can improve on the power play there is no telling what he’s capable of.

With the playoffs around the corner, both Auston and Patrik will be under immense pressure to perform, and I for one am really excited to see how it shakes out. The unlikely kid from Arizona Vs. the Finnish phenom. A rivalry that will no doubt follow their careers.