Answering The Most Asked Questions Regarding NHL Coming To Utah

Jan 25, 2024, 4:37 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm

Credit: Tegan Stevens...

Credit: Tegan Stevens

SALT LAKE CITY – With yesterday’s announcement that Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake owner Ryan Smith had officially put in a request to start an NHL expansion team, the internet has been a constant flurry of wild speculation, excitement, confusion, and for some reason, a little anger.

So, let’s dive and answer some questions together. I’d like to call it an educated guess, but there’s no education involved, I’ve just spoken with a lot of people who help in these decisions or know more than most. So, let’s address the online arguments one by one.

Does This Mean Salt Lake Is For Sure Getting An NHL Team?

The short answer to this is no, but we’re one step closer than we were 72 hours ago. Several other cities/ownership groups have also put in the request. Houston, Atlanta, Oklahoma, Quebec, and Hamilton have all made similar requests.

Salt Lake is ready to host right now, which is why the idea of bringing the Arizona Coyotes here made so much sense. The Coyotes are currently homeless and playing out of the 5000-seat arena built for Arizona State University. When the Coyotes ownership decided to stay in Arizona, I kind of thought our shot at getting an NHL team was over. It’s not like the NHL is going to rush a decision just because we already have a building. There are a lot of steps between now and then.

Will The NHL Work In Utah? The Grizzlies Don’t Sell Out…

In most of the markets with newer NHL franchises, minor league hockey either wasn’t even there before or if it was and it had either failed or was doing OK. Las Vegas had the Thunder and the Wranglers in the past 20 years. Those teams did OK, but they weren’t setting any attendance records.

Minor league success is not an accurate scale to try and measure fans’ interest in the NHL. For example, how many people go to G League games to watch basketball? The NHL is entertainment. People don’t have to be hockey players or huge hockey fans to want to go see games. Same with all the other major sports, people just want to see the best athletes playing.

NHL teams are masters at growing the game and building their fan base. They have grassroots campaigns to get young kids playing at almost no cost to build interest in the sport.

What Will Happen To The Utah Grizzlies If Utah Gets An NHL Team?

It’s no secret that the Utah Grizzlies were once the Denver Grizzlies, and they had to be relocated because Denver got the Colorado Avalanche. But that was years ago. The current ownership model is for NHL teams to buy and keep their farm club close, like sometimes in the same building close. It makes sense for an NHL team to buy the Utah Grizzlies and the Maverik Center and move the Grizzlies back into the AHL.

If this happened, it would be a huge win for Grizzlies die-hards and all hockey fans. NHL tickets are expensive, not NBA or NFL expensive, but not far off. So, to be able to go watch our high draft picks and guys that will be on the NHL roster play in the AHL for the same price as a current Grizz ticket is a huge win for everyone. You can get tickets to see the Henderson Silver Knights (The AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights) starting around $12.

Delta Center Isn’t For Hockey

The Delta Center isn’t the plan for hockey. It may be a temporary home for the new NHL team, but it looks like the plan would be to build a new arena. This would help the team draw from Utah and Salt Lake Counties and would create a new area with shopping and restaurants.

“It’s A Money Grab!!”

This is one of the arguments I just don’t get. People are mad that SEG wants to spend billions to build an arena, an entertainment district, and bring an NHL team to Utah because, in the long run, they think the group will make money.

Well, yeah, I hope they make a ton.

It also means over 300 new jobs, just on the team side of things. Then when you think of all the other positives that come with it, it just makes this a dead issue. Who hurt you?

Team Names

This part gets a little fun. I’ve seen all kinds of names and at one point about a year ago, we did a survey on the Utah Puck Report Facebook Page.

The Utah Yetis came out on top, but other cool names like Copper Miners, Golden Eagles, Fighting Saints, Venom and Powder Hounds have all had votes.

How Do We Make This Happen?

OK, this isn’t one I’ve seen on any message boards, but it should be. Let’s help grow the game. Take friends to Grizzlies, local club college, local Junior A, or local high school games. Explain the rules to them. Several teams in this area would love your support.

Start playing hockey. No, it’s not too late. There are adult rookie leagues.

This one I’m biased on, but support local hockey podcasts (ahem, The Utah Puck Report).

Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com. The show is hosted by KSL Sports’ hockey insider, Jay Stevens.


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Answering The Most Asked Questions Regarding NHL Coming To Utah