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Insect with an attitude: Columbus team to be the ‘Blue Jackets’

November 12, 1997

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The insect with an attitude is taking a bit of heat.

Stinger, the future mascot of Columbus’ NHL expansion team, got a lukewarm reception from fans Tuesday after owners unveiled the logo and confirmed that the team will be named the Blue Jackets.

``It’s not even an insect,″ complained Joe Vowell, who made a sign protesting the name and stood outside a news conference where the name was announced. ``It’s like calling the team the White Shirts.″

Vowell said he would still support Columbus’ NHL franchise, but wants principal owner John H. McConnell to go with another name.

``Please, Mr. McConnell, reconsider. Listen to the fans. No to the Blue Jackets,″ the sign said.

The name was leaked to reporters last week and has generated letters to the editor as well as heated calls to a local radio station.

``The colors are ugly, the name is stupid. ... I’m ashamed to be in Columbus, Ohio, right now,″ a caller to a local sports-radio talk show lamented shortly after the announcement.

The name’s reception was a little better at a downtown shopping mall, where hats and shirts were to go on sale later in the week.

``I can live with it,″ said John Blanton, 28. ``It’s still hockey.″

Most people said it would take awhile to get used to the name and logo, but others were already looking for the merchandise.

``We’ve had quite a few people asking for it,″ said Allen Harris, an assistant manager at a Foot Locker sporting goods store. ``They’re even asking about whether we have the jerseys.″

Blue Jackets officials and the NHL are still working on uniform designs. David Haney, director of creative services for the NHL, said it could be another 18 months before the uniforms are revealed.

Blue Jackets officials said the uniforms will feature one or both of two logos unveiled Tuesday: Stinger, a red-eyed snarling bug with a thick stinger, clad in a federal blue jacket with stars on the collar and a cocked Union Army hat and carrying a florescent green hockey stick.

A more formal logo features a swirling red banner dotted with white stars forming the letters ``C″ and ``B″ _ for ``Columbus″ and ``Blue.″ A hockey stick in the middle forms a green ``J″ for ``Jackets.″

The team’s owners said the name was chosen from among 14,000 submitted in a name-the-team contest.

``We wanted to have something with a patriotic feel that represented the heartland,″ said John Christie, president of JMAC Hockey, created to serve as managing general partner for the team.

Why Blue Jackets?

The name is a bit of a takeoff on the yellow jacket, a wasp or hornet with yellow markings, which represents youth and the attitude, Christie said.

The Civil War cap and the blue jacket are symbols of local pride _ Ohio had more soldiers in the Union Army per capita than any other state. The name is not, backers have said, a reference to Ohio’s 19th century Shawnee war chief, Blue Jacket.

This isn’t the first time a team name has bothered Columbus fans. When the city landed a Major League Soccer team, backers named it the Columbus Crew. The name and logo _ a muscled worker wearing a T-shirt and a hard hat _ confused fans, who said it bore no obvious ties to the city.

Christie said he is convinced that when fans see the full package _ the mascot and logo together _ they will come around.

``The name without a logo is a very hard thing to explain,″ Christie said. ``This is going to bring life to the name.″

Blue Jackets is a new twist in the tradition-rich NHL, but Haney said change is welcome.

``We liked the idea of a Blue Jacket being a bug,″ Haney said. ``We’ve got a rich history, but at the same time we’ve got a great future. I think we’ve found a way ... to balance this.″

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