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The Winnipeg Jets will take off with a new third jersey this NHL season, but the official launch has hit some turbulence.
While the team has been keeping the new design under wraps, Icethetics.co (a website that looks at hockey team branding) posted images Thursday of what it says is the jersey that will be unveiled Friday night at the Winnipeg Jets Fan Forum at Bell MTS Place.
The website says the image (originally posted to website HFBoards by a user named Brominator) had been spotted on the official online store for the National Hockey League, but has since been taken down.
The jersey is predominantly a blue colour traditionally used by aviators and the chest logo is a stylized “Jets,” similar to a small logo that has recently appeared on players’ helmets during practice sessions. The phrase “We Are True North” is printed on the inside collar.
A statement by the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club says the new jersey will be worn during select games this 2018-19 season.
Within minutes of the leak and the image being distributed on social media by TSN, many hockey fans began criticizing it.
“How can the @NHLJets go from that beautiful Heritage Classic jersey to this?” tweeted Chris Marganelli.
“Needs less plain and more plane” read a tweet from another Twitter account.
A tweet from Michigan-based “Digger” read: “That’s a Detroit Lions jersey. Did they have to change their name to the jets after the beating Monday?”
Twitter user Ryan Hank saw the positives, tweeting: “It’s nice. Kinda boring. In game it’s probably pretty cool.”
Rob Wozny, True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. vice-president of communications and community engagement, would not comment on the jersey images making their way across the internet. He said the new jerseys will go on sale at Jets Gear locations across Winnipeg and truenorthshop.com immediately following the unveiling.
“We do anticipate the new third jersey being officially unveiled on Friday will do well at retail,” Wozny said, but wouldn’t reveal past sales figures on other jerseys.
James Belford, manager of the River City Sports store on St. James Street, said he expects the new jersey will sell well, but nowhere near the level of the Jets’ 2016 Heritage Classic jersey featuring the Jets crest from the 1970s and ’80s, but incorporates some of the colour and striping design of the current main jersey.
“That was an absolute sellout and will continue to be,” Belford said.
“It sold so fast because people loved the old look and the new look together. Every time someone comes in the store, they ask if we have any Heritage Classic jerseys and we laugh.”
However, Belford said now that Reebok no longer has the licensing rights to produce jerseys and Adidas has taken over, he expects there will be new Heritage Classic jerseys soon.
“I’d say the Heritage Classic is by far the No. 1 seller, followed by the white jersey second — because of the playoffs — and then the blue one is popular. We’ll have to see where this one is.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.