Winnipeg Jets Should Honour Their Thrashers History

To say the Winnipeg Jets missed the mark on their Reverse Retro jerseys would be an understatement. The jerseys are lackluster and fail to breathe new life into an already gloomy offseason. The Jets don’t have the worst jersey from the Retro Reverse collection (that goes to either the Detroit Red Wings or the New York Islanders), but they could have done so much more with these.

The dreary colors, the lines, the logo… it just doesn’t work. The Jets had an opportunity to really do something creative, to make an iconic jersey for the upcoming season. Instead, all they really did was invent a new color — Fighter Grey... Why didn’t the Jets embrace the assignment and focus on the Retro component, the heritage of the team?

Around the NHL

Look at what the Anaheim Ducks did. The Ducks managed to turn one of the kitschiest, cartoonish jerseys in their closet, the “Wild Wing”, into the must-have sweater of the season. Fans loathed that emblem for years, poking fun at it, but now Anaheim has pulled a complete 180° on the narrative!

The Minnesota Wild paid homage to the former Minnesota franchise, the North Stars, by incorporating their colors. The Colorado Avalanche held on to their own colors but brought back the vintage Quebec Nordiques logo and the Carolina Hurricanes went full-on WHA with Hartford Whalers uniforms.

There’s honestly no excuse. It’s not like the Jets don’t have a history to pull from like the Vegas Golden Knights. On the contrary, the Jets find themselves in a unique situation. They’re not only able to pull from the first rendition of the team, which is now the Phoenix Coyotes, but also the team which bore the second rendition — the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta Thrashers (1999 – 2011)

The gang over at BarDown shared one graphic designer’s concept jersey:

In terms of the assignment, this graphic designer’s concept jersey fits the challenge to a Capital T (the T standing for Thrashers). By switching the Atlanta “T” to a jet, it looks as if the jets basically inverted the Thrasher’s alternate logo. You get a fairly unique jersey that more than fulfills the retro theme. However, it appears that the Jets, and the NHL for that matter, want to completely ignore the city of Atlanta.

The latest installment to EA Sport’s NHL video games, NHL 21, doesn’t have a single Atlanta Thrashers jersey in the game. In NHL 21, the Hurricanes have the Whalers jerseys, the Avalanche have the Nordiques jerseys, and the Calgary Flames even have the old Atlanta Flames jerseys. What’s even wilder is that the game has the California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, and the Kansas City Scouts jerseys! Yet, EA Games and the NHL haven’t included the Atlanta Thrashers, the most recent of the now-defunct organizations? Why?

Now, to be fair to the NHL and EA, when the Atlanta Spirit, LLC (who owned the Thrashers) sold the team to True North Sports in 2011, the Atlanta Spirit retained the rights and the logos for the Thrashers. However, Atlanta Spirit disbanded in 2015, so in theory, the logo should be available for use. The Thrashers weren’t known for their jersey designs (quite the contrary), but it’s still a part of hockey history.

When discussing this with a fellow writer for The Hockey Writers, Declan Schroeder, he said, “The reason I don’t want the Jets to pay homage to the Thrashers era in any way regarding a jersey is that the Thrashers were, first and foremost, characterized by complete and utter incompetence both on and off the ice.

I mean… he’s not wrong, but I would argue that if it weren’t for Atlanta’s incompetence, Winnipeg might not have a team today.

But Schroeder brought up a very real point — Atlanta did in fact hand over an incompetent, broken team that the city of Winnipeg has had to nurse back to health. Atlanta fans stopped attending games and the Thrashers were nothing more than an easy win on opposing team’s schedule. As Thrashers’ former captain once said:

“[The Thrashers] had zero success. Atlanta has had some really good players, they’ve hung on to none of them….In Atlanta, we had real good support early. But they’ve played four playoff games in 10 years. Who’s going to go to games?

Ray Ferraro, Ferraro: How to survive an expansion season,

But what family doesn’t have a black sheep in the bunch? Who among us haven’t gone through a “phase” we’d choose to forget.

atlanta thrashers
The current Jets captain, Blake Wheeler, was traded from the Boston Bruins to the Thrashers in Atlanta’s final season. He played 23 games in Atlanta.

Something to Chew on

Let me pose this question. Would you rather pretend that the Jets never left for Phoenix? Would you rather think of it as a 15-year hiatus? That the Jets simply stepped out one day for a pack of du Mauriers, promising that they would be right back and that they just needed some fresh air. Which is ironic, because the pack of smokes they were “heading out for” would only further pollute their immediate oxygen supply. It was only when Jeopardy! came on did you realize that they weren’t coming back at all. Instead, it took a decade and a half for them to turn up, and when they did, the first thing they did was ask for money…

Excuse me, I blacked out for a moment… Anyway…

Would you rather snuff out the Thrashers and ignore that era like a disgraced relative; shushing those that mention Atlanta like it were the word “Voldemort?” Or would you be open to acknowledging the Thrashers? Is there any harm in embracing the team’s southern roots and paying homage? Heck, would you even buy the concept jersey?

What do you think? When it comes to the acknowledgment of the Thrashers — yay or nay? Comment your thoughts below.

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