A very unreliable source (a friend of a friend of a friend of Craig Heisinger’s third cousin’s sister’s seamstress) has informed me that the Winnipeg Jets will be the first National Hockey League team to display advertisements on their jerseys.
“It’s true,” my very unreliable source said. “People say the Jets have been winning ugly, so they figured they might as well have ugly uniforms. And, believe me, these unis are five kinds of uuuuuuugly!”
This development comes on the heels of a comment this week from NHL big-wig John Collins, who informed the ’14 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology Conference that uniform advertising is “coming and happening.” He just didn’t expect it to come and happen this soon.
Jets’ bankroll Mark Chipman would neither confirm nor deny the report, but he did acknowledge (sort of) that fans might not immediately embrace the concept of ads on Jets jerseys.
“The people in Jets Nation and what they think are very important to us,” he said. “Without our fans, we wouldn’t have any fans. And without fans…well, I really don’t want to think what life would be like without our fans because without them there would be no fans and, as Claude Noel was wont to say, there would be no joy if they weren’t paying some of the tallest ticket prices in the NHL. But, to those who oppose ads on our jerseys, I say this: With the additional revenue, our general manager can now afford to add another three years to Chris Thorburn’s contract at a wage normally reserved for top-six forwards.”
There’s some speculation that the Jets might debut their new duds tonight in Ottawa when they play the Senators.
“I can’t comment on that,” said Chipman. “You’ll just have to tune in to see.”
One prominent person pooh-poohed the notion of turning NHL players into skating billboards.
“Typical Bettman!” yelped Don Cherry, star of Curmudgeon’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada. “Anythink the Europeans do, he likes! The teams over there got more ads on their unforms than a Shopper’s Drug Mart flyer, so he figures that’s a GOOD THINK! Maybe this is his way of making the Europeans feel more AT HOME! Gotta keep them European boys HAPPY! Doesn’t matter that three-quarters of the players are from NORTH AMERICA! Gary’s gotta pamper the Europeans! Next think ya know, Bettman will have the refs carryin’ red cards and yellow cards in THEIR POCKETS! And another think…I can’t believe they’re gonna do this in Winnipeg! Must need the money or somethink. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, though? They voted in an NDP GOVERNMENT! Bunch of PINKOS!”
Chipman met Cherry’s criticism with a shrug and a smile, saying, “That’s just Don being Don.”
“I don’t think he’d have any complaints if we placed an ad for Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Hockey on our jersey. Hey, that’s not a bad idea! Canadian taxpayers have made Grapes a millionaire, so he could afford to give something back to the game other than 26 volumes of scar tissue and blood. Maybe he’d be willing to buy big Buff’s back. Probably not, though. Buff’s not a good Canadian boy.”
Our very unreliable source indicated that there would be half a dozen ads on each Jets jersey, except Dustin Byfuglien’s and Toby Enstrom’s. Big Buff’s sweater is large enough to accomodate 12 ads, eight on the front and four on the back, while there’s only room for three on tiny Toby’s.
“If we do this—and I’m not saying we are and I’m not saying we aren’t—it won’t be tacky and tawdry,” Chipman insisted. “True North is all about class, so you won’t be seeing Evander Kane skating down the left wing with a picture of a peeler joint and a half naked pole dancer in neon on his back. At True North, we’re all about family values.
“Truthfully, I can only see one negative in this idea: It’s going to play hell on Bob Cole. The game’s one big blur to the old boy as it is, so if we go slapping a whack of ads on our jerseys he’s going to think he’s looking at one of those 3D pictures with a picture hidden inside. Poor Bob will go bonkers, like Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld.”
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg hockey and the Jets for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of hockey knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for literary contributions to the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C.