Friday, May 6th, 2016

Manitoba and the Military


Am I the only one who feels a little uncomfortable with the new logo of the Winnipeg Jets?

I can understand why the Canadian military wants to partner with the NHL – it gets the same benefits of any corporate sponsor and the television advertising on a hockey game is very nearly perfectly targetted. They gets lots of free publicity along the way, too, what with player (and Don Cherry) trips to Afghanistan, colour guards and soldiers rappelling down from ceilings in arenas. I can also understand why the NHL loves the partnership. They’ve already learned that wrapping hockey in the flag makes the cash register ring. The sports entertainment business and the military is a marriage made in heaven.

Understanding it doesn’t make me like it very much. I’m a fairly determined pacifist who has been strongly opposed to the Afghanistan adventure from the beginning. I’ve long been uncomfortable with the HNiC decision to let Don Cherry express his political opinions between periods of a hockey game. For quite a while I was okay with his emotional tributes to the casualties because I think the emotion is genuine – mine, too – and I think it is a good thing to remind us all of the personal human tragedies war unfailingly delivers.

But I am becoming less okay with any of it. The line between supporting the troops and supporting the miltary mission is becoming too fine for me. Nationalism and hockey have always been impossible to separate in Canada, but that has not necessarily been a good thing for the game (or the country, for that matter.) Xenophobia held hockey back for a long time and international competitions seldom bring out the best in the Canadian fans.

The new Jets logo is a weapons system superimposed on a flag inside a military insignia. Cool, eh? Who couldn’t support that?

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13 Responses to “Manitoba and the Military”
  1. I can understand hockey teams wanting to support the military and the troops and i am OK with that but the Winnipeg thing is a little over the top. Mostly I just think the logo looks dull and bland, too serious looking, and maybe even a little corporate for something that is really nothing more than a form of entertainment.

  2. Roberto says:

    I’m not sure the logo is doing much in the way of saber-rattling, and there is a long connection between the Air Force and Manitoba that is indisputable – it’s how the Jets got their name, after all, but I dislike the new logo for other reasons. I think a logo should be timeless, and the nature of the design is such that it has a very limited shelf-life. I much preferred the one on WinnipegJetsOnline, though something less identifiable as an F-18 would have been even better.

    • Joe says:

      Jets got their name from the New York Jets.

      The Winnepeg team owner like how the New York Jets signed Namath, and asked permission to name his junior hockey team after them. The hockey team kept the name in the WHA and NHL.

  3. ColinM says:

    I hoped that they would come out with something with Jets spelled out with a hockey stick for a J. I like logos that help identify they type of sport the team plays.

    As for the topic at hand I wasn’t too worried about the Columbus Blue Jackets making reference to Ohio’s American Civil War history. To me this isn’t much different.

    • Tom says:

      Maybe it doesn’t have to be very much different. We’ve been on this slippery slope for years now and each new thing isn’t much different. Its been a trend in the United States for a long time. But it is not a reference to war that concerns me. It is the marketing of the military. The Blue Jackets are a war reference, but the Union army isn’t doing any selling. It isn’t involved at all.

      The Canadian military has become another corporate sponsor of the NHL without signing a contract or paying for it aside from the cost of the direct advertising. I don’t like the idea that the government is using hockey to sell Canadians on the military mission(s), and, in the end, using hockey to protect military budgets. To the military, hockey helps achieve political objectives.

      Second, I don’t think the Jets should be selling hockey by wrapping it in the flag. I don’t think that’s good for either the game or the flag.

      • Ice Rink Eschatologists says:

        I agree, Tom. This isn’t a reference to the War of 1812, or the Red River Rebellion(s). It’s a direct attempt at making modern war a marketable commodity with as much innocence and excitement as a hockey game.

        I’m very disappointed in the logo. I also think this kind of marketing works to hide some of the more painful truths about how we ‘support’ war and veterans in our own country (government resistance to PTSD diagnosis and treatment as a war-induced condition is a strong example of our uneven support for our troops, irrespective of the misery we create for other countries/peoples). If you’re still feeling like the only one who thinks this, Tom, have a look at this Georgia Straight article:

        Keep up the great work, Tom!

  4. beingbobbyorr says:

    Is Manitoba merely home to a lot of military aviation bases, or are there Canadian aerospace companies that design and/or build aircraft there, too? I’m just trying to clarify if the military ties to hockey are vis-a-vis government or commercial suppliers.

  5. Ice Rink Eschatologists says:

    And just after I posted a reply on here, I stumbled across this article by John Samson (of Weakerthans fame). Great piece by another pacifist.

  6. thea says:

    that has not necessarily been a good thing for the game (or the country, for that matter.) Xenophobia held hockey back for a long time and international competitions seldom bring out the best in the Canadian fans.


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