Smith: Utah Ready For NHL ‘Now’, Potential Team Names

Jan 24, 2024, 1:51 PM | Updated: Feb 27, 2024, 11:26 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Ryan Smith, Chairman of the Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) appeared on the Pat McAfee Show and discussed Utah’s readiness to host an NHL team, and a potential name for the franchise.

On Wednesday, SEG announced that it had formally requested for the NHL to place an expansion franchise in Utah. Smith followed the announcement with an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on ESPN to discuss what the state had to offer.

Related: SEG Requests NHL Expansion In Utah

“We’ve got to put something in front of [the NHL] that’s pretty tough for them to turn down, and I think we’ve done that,” Smith said.

“We’ve got the youngest demographic in the country, the fastest growing state, we’re in the process of [bringing] the [Winter] Olympics, which is massive for [2034] and hockey.”

Smith: Utah Ready For NHL “Now”

While as many as six locations have explored NHL expansion across North America, Smith says there is one determining factor that sets Utah apart.

RELATED: Ryan Smith Teases New Downtown Arena Rendering Focused On Pro Sports Arena

“We’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re ready, and we can we can do it now.’ We don’t we don’t need to go build an arena to land a team right now.”

While a new arena would be in the team’s plans, SEG “made clear its immediate ability to welcome an NHL team to Utah, using Delta Center as an interim home arena for an NHL franchise” in Wednesday’s announcement.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been holding NHL games and we’ve done the Frozen Fury in the Delta Center,” Smith told McAfee. “It fits, it works. It’s not as many seats as we would like because it’s not configured the right way, but we can probably get 14,000 plus [fans] in there and get going on a launch.”

Smith Entertains Potential Utah NHL Team Name

During his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show Smith was asked about potential names for the expansion franchise.

Though the Utah Jazz owner didn’t have specifics, he mentioned that he’d seen suggestions from fans on social media.

“There was a bunch out there, I saw the Utah Venom, I saw the Yetis — Utah Yeti with a killer logo. I thought that was pretty cool actually, especially with the U and the Y, they’d finally come together,” Smith said of the rivalry between the University of Utah and BYU.

Though Smith entertained a few names, he didn’t commit to branding just yet.

“Our number one goal is like, let’s land the plane here and get the NHL in Utah,” Smith said. “We can worry about all the other stuff after that.”

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Smith: Utah Ready For NHL ‘Now’, Potential Team Names