Monday, 10 October 2011

Messing Up History

If there is one thing that should never be done when working in any sort of historical context, that one thing thing would be messing up timelines. The reason that timelines exist is that they tell a story if nothing else; they keep track of how things happened and how we got to where we are today. History is kept as unfettered as possible for the very reason that when something changes significantly, the history tells the story of how, when, and why things changed. Last night, I found myself very confused when watching the Winnipeg Jets play the Montreal Canadiens because apparently the Jets have decided that the 2011-12 season is their inaugural season. And they decided to commemorate this season with a patch boasting their inaugural season.

This is NOT the team's inaugural season from a historical standpoint. I cannot stress this enough: this team has played before in the NHL, and the franchise name has existed as part of the NHL once already. The timelines are being seriously skewed for any casual fan who may just pick the game up this season. I see a number of problems with this "inaugural season" claim.

First, this team existed elsewhere last season. The franchise played its inaugural season in Atlanta, Georgia, and wore a patch on their hockey pants stating as much. The franchise, after it went through its ups and downs, eventually landed in Winnipeg where it would begin play for its twelfth NHL season. Therefore, this season is NOT the franchise's inaugural season.

Secondly, the Winnipeg Jets team name has already had one, and possibly a second, inaugural season. There definitely would have been an inaugural WHA season as the Jets took flight in 1972 as Ben Hatskin brought the city its first professional hockey team. The Jets may have also had an inaugural NHL season in 1979-80 when they were one of four teams brought over from the WHA to join the NHL. The Winnipeg Jets were a part of the NHL for sixteen years before moving to Phoenix, Arizona as the Coyotes, and the Coyotes still honour the retired numbers of the former Winnipeg Jets. If the Coyotes didn't wear one, why are the Jets wearing one this season? Therefore, this season is NOT the inaugural season of the Winnipeg Jets.

Thirdly, by commemorating this season as the inaugural, it's as if the franchise is cutting all ties to its former home in Atlanta. The Jets have already stated that they would carry on the legacy of former Thrasher Dan Snyder in some way. But it seems that if this their inaugural season, they wouldn't have ties to a player that never wore the Jets uniform. Again, timelines are being skewed here. Snyder's memories were highly valued by the Thrashers organization and players, and Winnipeg is committing to carrying on those memories of a fallen player, yet they commemorate this season as its first in the NHL. That can't happen on a timeline if this is the team's first season in the NHL! Therefore, this season is NOT the inaugural season of the Winnipeg Jets.

I find it completely baffling that the NHL signed off on this. With the Jets informing local media that they had re-acquired the rights to the old Jets logos, history will only continue to be tossed casually aside. I have no issue with True North Sports and Entertainment buying the old logos for merchandising purposes, but the old Jets franchise is still playing in the NHL. Wearing that logo on the ice has nothing to do with the current version of the Jets.

In a much classier move, the NHL's Director of Officiating Terry Gregson awarded the opening night game in Winnipeg to a Winnipegger! Friend of HBIC and NHL linesman Ryan Galloway got the call to fly home for the first game in Winnipeg, and he did an outstanding job. Well, as outstanding as one can be as an official when his job is to basically be invisible. Ryan and his wife no longer call Winnipeg home, but Ryan's wife informed me that both her dad and Ryan's dad were in the stands to see Ryan work the lines in his first NHL game in Winnipeg! Way to go Ryan, and a very classy move by Terry Gregson and the NHLOA to give the first game in Winnipeg to Winnipegger Ryan Galloway!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

mtjaws said...

I agree that the timelines of the old and new Jets, plus the Thrashers and Coyotes, are getting skewed because of various choices, including that patch.

However, I think it all could have been avoided by naming the team anything other than Winnipeg Jets. There are billions of other possible names, and all would have created a new identity and history for the team and city. Sure it is nice to refer to the old team, but that team moved away, and something new replaced it. Turn the page, start anew, and be happy to have a (different) team again.