NHL

Sean O’Connell’s Official Analysis Of Every Potential Utah NHL Team Name

May 9, 2024, 12:32 PM | Updated: 2:07 pm

NHL Utah Questions...

Vision Graphics crews install an NHL banner on the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Jazz owner Ryan Smith bought the Arizona Coyotes and they will relocate to Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Photo courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The official list of possible names for the Utah NHL Team is out. I encourage everyone to exercise your duty as a Utahn and go vote.

I’m actually quite skeptical that the name and brand of a 1.2 BILLION DOLLAR purchase is being 100 percent left in the hands of a population who somehow enjoys pairing cookies and soda, but at the very least this Qualtrics polling process is a great way to get a finger on the pulse of the fan base.

Naturally, I have my opinions (I know what they are like. And that we all have them and every one stinks), so here is the definitive-absolutely-indisputable-very-much-official-breakdown of how you should feel about every single name on the list presented for voting.

OC’s Utah NHL Team Name Analysis

MOUNTAINEERS

It’s fine. Nothing to hate about it, but nothing to love about it either. Very on-the-nose for our lovely state. Collegiate teams with this name seem to struggle with cool branding. It’s 2024, so a fur trapping lad in a coyote skin cap just doesn’t resonate like it once might have. There would also be strong temptation to copycat Jazz mountain jerseys. We can do better. I don’t think this one has much of a chance.

ICE

We don’t call football teams “grass” or “turf”. We don’t call basketball teams “hardwood” or “courts”. To my knowledge, the soccer purists have never even called a team the “pitch”. You don’t name a team after the surface it plays on. No shot.

HIVE

I love our state’s affinity for the industrious little honeymakers who have been part of the lore and cultural identity since the pioneers decided to settle down in the valley. Anything bee-branded or bee-related deserves some serious thought. Hive is the nickname you give to an arena where the Bees or Swarm play, not the name of the team itself. And while we are here, Swarm is on the fringe of being a good idea. Almost right, but not quite. With the right logo, mascot, and colors, it could grow on us. Hive is out. Swarm is lukewarm maybe.

UTAH HC

A vote for this is a wasted vote. The preamble page before you click to the actual list of names already states that this is the default winner for the 2024-2025 season. I don’t mind it as a placeholder because the generic name means you can play with some cool logos and colors. It’s a blank slate that you can attach anything to. Only worth using for the first season.

FROST

This is the winter equivalent of naming your team the Dewdrops. Frost is fragile and unintimidating, a minor inconvenience to be scraped off your windshield in the morning. “Utah Frost” seems like the name of a 1990’s Fruitopia drink flavor that came with that unsettling antifreeze blue color. Bad. Will not be the name.

BLIZZARD

Why not consider the Peanut Buster Parfaits or the Dilly Bars? Blizzard is a delicious ice cream treat from Dairy Queen, not an NHL hockey team. My dad used to love a Mister Misty slushy drink when we would swing by the DQ just off the corner of 9400 S. and 1300 E. in Sandy. Is Utah Misty Slush in the running? Don’t do it people. I’ve seen a lot of positive feedback for Blizzard. Please, heed my warning and drop this from consideration.

CARIBOU

A mighty antlered ungulate makes for a fantastic team name and strikes a noble image! But… this is the wrong one. We don’t have reindeer in Utah. Elk, Moose, even Muledeer- or something derivative of these striking beasts like “Herd” would be a serious contender. I’ve seen some incredible uniform mock-ups and logos in this family. Instead, some unserious lout threw caribou in the mix. This ain’t the Yukon territory. Not happening.

VENOM

I see a lot of folks who like this, and some of the talented graphic artists on twitter have me believing it could be made into an acceptable overall brand even if the name isn’t particularly fantastic. With the right colors and a carefully crafted rattlesnake logo, I could be persuaded to put this in my top four. I know it feels a little bit like a u-12 superleague baseball moniker, but I think we can shake that if everything else is right. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.

BLAST

I genuinely believe a Qualtrics intern was told to add a few more options to the real list and that this is one of them. Absolutely nobody wants this.

FURY

This is an acceptable suggestion under one circumstance and one circumstance only. If you call this team the Fury, it is mandatory that the logo and mascot are dinosaur-themed. “Fury” with the iconic Utahraptor as a centerpiece would be awesome. Doesn’t even have to be a Utahraptor. Nobody else in pro sports is using a T-Rex! Let’s throw the Tyrant Lizard King on the sweater and get crazy. A darkhorse.

FREEZE

Please visit my X account @realocsports for the punishment you deserve if voting for this joke of a name.

GLACIERS

Huge, with the power to shape mountains. Also laughably slow and evocative of a bottled-water brand. Just because something is cold doesn’t mean it fits with a pro hockey team.

CANYONS

I still don’t think I love naming a team after a geographical feature or a place, but at least this is quintessentially Utah. We all have our favorite canyons. There’s also potential for some sick alternate sweaters by incorporating the redrock and slot canyons of the state’s southern reaches in the branding. It’s not an entirely bad idea, but I doubt it cracks the top four for most.

SQUALL

It’s kind of like a Blizzard, but shorter-lived and less impressive! Go ahead and look up the definition of a squall, “moderately heavy snow and winds”. “Snow accumulations in a squall may or may not be significant.” Hockey players deserve more than to be named after such a fleeting and unimpressive meteorological phenomenon.

POWDER

I get it. Best snow on Earth. As an ironic franchise name, it’s brilliant. Bunch of tough guys skating around in baby blue sweaters with snowflakes on them. Good thing the guy who led the NHL in penalty minutes is already on this squad, because you definitely have to overcorrect on team culture to get out from under a name this soft. No thanks.

OUTLAWS

A Las Vegas team already used this, but I suppose if you disqualified anything that’s been used in the numerous offshoot pro football leagues, you’d start running out of options quickly. I think this one eventually wins. An obvious nod to Utah’s Wild West roots with limitless branding options. The plethora of logo and mascot options here actually make it more difficult to manage in my opinion, but the Smith Entertainment Group is taking the time to try and get it right with whatever lands. That’s going to be crucial here. Not my personal favorite, (because cowboys on skates is kind of weird honestly) but good enough to cast a wide net and sway the majority of fans.

YETI

Another suggestion that seems to be wildly popular on the internet, but problematic for me for many reasons. First of all, Google “Yeti” right now. It’s all overpriced coolers and fancy vacuum insulated mugs. That’s what you’re up against from a brand-recognition standpoint. As far as the intended image goes, you won’t find a bigger fan of cryptids than me. I love a good creature legend! The formidable beasts of campfire stories and grainy home videos make for great mascots. So great that Seattle just got a franchise and dubbed them the Kraken… Yeti feels like a copycat play.

Additionally, the Yeti has no connection to Utah at all. Despite our mountains, we’ve failed to cultivate a quality sasquatch/bigfoot/abominable primate folklore. It’s too late to jump on now. Bigfoot belongs to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Yeti is just a Himalayan bigfoot. To make things worse, the Colorado Avalanche used a yeti as their physical mascot. Too many things working against this name for the Utah franchise. So it’s time to admit that you only like “Utah Yetis” because it’s phonetically alliterative and cast your vote elsewhere.

MAMMOTH

This idea came to the party late but has charged to the front of the pack for me and for many others. If we can’t get a dinosaur logo, the mighty woolly mammoth is the next best thing. Specimens have also been found in our great state, which is a big bonus for authenticity. Colorado has an indoor lacrosse franchise called the Mammoth with a pretty sweet logo, but that doesn’t feel like enough of an obstacle to derail the momentum of this Pleistocene pachyderm. I will unabashedly campaign for Utah Mammoth if this list truly represents the entirety of our options. (Holler at me on social media if you want to talk about the growing mammoth ivory trade or the fascinating work being done by the former head of the Harvard cloning lab to resurrect this glorious species from extinction.)

BLACK DIAMONDS

I go back and forth on this one. Like the Fury name, this allows for some other local fauna -living or extinct- to be the centerpiece of your branding. Conversely, you’re pigeonholing yourself into making black the primary color. It might not fit hockey perfectly, but it’s original. At the end of the day, I’m not sure it really speaks to a broad enough range of the Utah population, though I think that could change with some clever marketing and uniform design. This name feels risky. Do it right and it’s incredible. Execute wrong and everyone will mock you for naming your hockey team after a difficulty rating in skiing. Probably too much of a stretch.

There. Now that you’ve read through my breakdown I am sure we are all in total agreement.

I wish names like (Mountain)Goats, Spikes, Ghosts, Battalion, Dinos, Cutthroats, or Bighorns had made the list, mostly for the sake of debate and to see some more uniform mockups.

No matter what the name ends up being, we should all stay excited about the fact that our state is getting another pro sports franchise and that we all get to jump on the bandwagon at the same time. Fifteen years from now, Utah will be a beloved NHL city and be producing hockey talent that populates the teams who come to play in the new arena.

This is gonna be fun.

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Sean O’Connell’s Official Analysis Of Every Potential Utah NHL Team Name