-- Three military planes, men and women in uniform, and the scream of airplanes taking off in the distance do not make for a jersey unveiling's typical setting.
The Winnipeg Jets
unveiled their new jerseys on Tuesday morning in an elaborate ceremony held at the city's 17 Wing Canadian Forces Base. Flanked by Dash 8 and CF-18 jets, captain Andrew Ladd
and teammates Nik Antropov
, Mark Stuart
and Manitoba native Eric Fehr
stepped off a Hercules jet and debuted the club's new look before a sea of assembled military personnel and media.
Winnipeg's jerseys derive much of their look from the Royal Canadian Air Force and its fabled blue colors. On the home jersey, the club's primary logo is set on a dark blue named "Polar Night Blue" and trimmed with a lighter shade of blue termed "Aviator Blue." The road white jerseys use the same logo, with the two shades of blue incorporated on the shoulders and sleeves.
Fans will see the dark home jersey in action for the first time when the Jets host the Columbus Blue Jackets
in the teams' preseason opener at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Sept. 20. The road white jersey will be on display that same night, as the teams will be playing a split-squad game in Columbus. The Jets' long-awaited regular-season opening game is Sunday, Oct. 9 at home against the Montreal Canadiens
"We wanted to create a look that worked well with Reebok's modern and innovative Edge System uniforms," said Jets Executive Vice-President and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff
. "However, it was also vitally important to us to honor the rich history of hockey in our city, and fit the era of the Royal Canadian Air Force which inspired the primary crest design. The result is clean, simple and traditional."
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The Jets and the Canadian Forces have rapidly built a relationship since the club relocated to Winnipeg earlier this summer. In addition to the logo and jerseys, the Jets will be donating $1 million over a 10-year period to several military charities.
"Our men and women in uniform are delighted by the gracious manner in which the Winnipeg Jets
... have sought to pay tribute to our time-honored relationship with this city," said Colonel Blaise Frawley, Commander of 17 Wing. "Today's announcement at our home in Winnipeg certainly lends a boost to our morale."
The Jets players on hand also endorsed the look.
"I think they're great," said Ladd, who had only seen the jerseys a few minutes before the ceremony. "They're clean, they're simple. It's hopefully something that will last a long, long time and we'll be proud to wear."
Fehr, a native of nearby Winkler, Manitoba, joined the Jets in an offseason trade from the Washington Capitals
and is fully tuned into the excitement that the League's arrival in the city and province has generated.
"It has been awesome. I really like (the jersey). Definitely better than the mock-ups," he said with a laugh.
The unveiling caps the club's truncated schedule for developing a name, logo and jersey. Typically, League clubs need 18 months to release a new jersey; however, the Jets and the Reebok Edge team had only six weeks to develop, polish and finalize the jerseys since Winnipeg announced its new team name at the Entry Draft on June 24.
Dominique Fillion and his Reebok team joined with the Jets to accelerate the development process. The two sides quickly collaborated on a concept for the team brand and propelled the timeline as quickly as possible.
"In the creative environment, you always come across deadline challenges," Fillion said. "We faced challenges before, and we always succeeded. We were really excited to take on the project.
"I think we were extremely focused, and we have a great design team. (Jets owner) Mr. (Mark) Chipman and the organization were extremely focused with the tight timeline. It's teamwork, and I think that's how we approach all of our projects. We're all there for the same goal at the end of the day."
Fillion recounted his first taste of the local fans' passion upon visiting Winnipeg in early June to begin consultations with the Winnipeg front office.
"We came through, and we just felt the tension. We were walking through the arena, and people were looking at us. It was wild," he said.
That same passion spilled over to a military base a short drive west from the MTS Centre.
"It's fun to be a part of this," Ladd said of the experience. "It's fun to have this excitement around the team. Unveiling the jerseys turns into something like this.
"I don't think anything surprises me anymore."