Winnipeg Jets unveil new jerseys

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- With airplanes screaming overhead, the reborn Winnipeg Jets showed off their new uniforms Tuesday.

Team captain Andrew Ladd and three other players emerged from the belly of a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules at CFB Winnipeg in their blue-and-white home and away uniforms.

The home jersey is navy blue -- officially "polar night blue" -- with striping in white and a lighter blue. The away jersey is white with the two shades of blue striping. The lighter shade is known as "aviator blue."

Both blue colors have links to the RCAF. The lighter shade matches its historical colors, while the darker comes from the paint used on many of the military's current aircraft. Both home and away sweaters also feature the team's new RCAF-inspired circular logo on the chest.

"We wanted to create a new look ... but also honor the rich history of hockey in our city and fit the era of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which inspired the primary logo," said general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

"As you can see the result is clean, it's simple and it's traditional."

The colors are essentially the same as those worn by the original Winnipeg Jets, who left the city in 1996 when the team relocated to Phoenix and was renamed the Coyotes. The reborn Jets are the former Atlanta Thrashers.

Winnipeg's first regular season game is Oct. 9 at home against the Montreal Canadiens.

There were plenty of armed forces members in the audience and Col. Blaise Frawley, commander of 17 Wing, thanked the team.

"Today's announcement at our home in Winnipeg certainly lends a boost to our morale," he said.

"Our men and women in uniform are delighted by the gracious manner in which the Winnipeg Jets hockey club has sought to pay tribute to our time-honored relationship with this city."

Even though police have already seized counterfeit Jets jerseys, fans will have to wait a month before they can get their hands on the real thing. The pro-weight jerseys won't be on sale until early October and less-expensive replica jerseys will be available a few weeks later.

The Jets' name and logo weren't the first choice of the team's new owners but they bowed to public pressure. That meant a last-minute rush to get the logo and jerseys ready for the season.

"A new jersey concept normally takes 18 months," said Cheveldayoff. "For us, as you know, this process was condensed in six weeks."

Ladd said he likes the new jersey, adding it's great to be able to honor the RCAF.

"What they do for us and the community and the country is exceptional," he said. "They put their life on the line and do great things and for us to be able to honor them ... and pay tribute to them is a great thing."