KSL SPORTS ZONE

Ryan Smith Calls Acquiring NHL Team ‘As Aggressive, Crazy As Anything’ In Career

Jun 7, 2024, 2:13 PM | Updated: Jun 10, 2024, 12:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah NHL owner Ryan Smith joined KSL Sports Zone‘s Hans & Scotty G. to discuss the franchise’s nickname, branding, and more.

Ryan Smith on Utah’s NHL team’s nickname, branding & more

On Friday, June 7, the league’s newest owner told Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard that the process of acquiring a franchise and getting it ready for the season was “about as aggressive and crazy as anything” he’s done in his storied career.

In recent years, Smith has gone public with his tech company, purchased the NBA’s Utah Jazz, bought a share of MLS’ Real Salt Lake, and helped revive the NWSL’s Utah Royals FC franchise.

Relocation from Arizona to Utah

Now, Smith has acquired assets from the former Arizona Coyotes and is in the process of relocating players and team personnel to Utah. In addition to the relocation, Smith Entertainment Group has to ready the team for the start of the 2024-25 season in the fall.

Utah NHL team nickname & branding

SEG’s to-do list for the NHL team is a long one. However, the group has involved the community in this early process.

A day before Smith’s interview, SEG released the second phase of a survey to fans to help decide the team’s nickname. The second survey featured six finalists out of the initial survey’s 20 nickname options.

Smith reiterated to Olsen and Garrard that the hockey franchise was “a community asset” and that’s part of the reason for involving fans in the naming process.

Hans & Scotty G. asked Smith to compare the hockey team’s situation to that of the Jazz, which announced a rebrand for the second time three years earlier in the week.

Smith said that the “chance to start fresh” with the NHL team’s branding is “definitely” “a lot better” than revamping the identity of an established franchise like the Jazz.

“With hockey, because we have a clean slate, we definitely wanted its own identity,” Smith said.

Utah’s NHL practice facility

In addition to the team’s branding process, Smith and his ownership group recently announced the location of the organization’s future practice facility. Utah’s NHL team will practice out of a new and permanent facility at The Shops at South Town in Sandy beginning in 2025.

RELATED: Smith Entertainment Group Announces Location Of Utah’s NHL Practice Facility

Smith told Hans & Scotty G. that the future practice facility would be a “hub” for hockey for both the team and the community.

“We’re truly about the community,” Smith said on KSL Sports Zone.

Training Camp, NHL Draft & Spicy Tuna

Other interesting topics the owner brought up on the radio included training camp, an NHL Draft party, and one of the team’s soon-to-be free agents.

Smith said the team would hold a training camp this fall in Park City.

As the Jazz have done in past seasons, Smith said the NHL team would host a draft party in the Delta Center. The NHL Entry Draft will be held in Las Vegas from June 28-29.

“We’ll be having multiple draft parties at the arena for everyone,” Smith said.

The NBA Draft takes place from June 26-27 in New York.

Smith also told Hans and Scotty G. a story about his daughter from earlier this week. Smith and his daughter were driving in the car when she asked him when center Liam “Spicy Tuna” O’Brien was arriving for the season.

“When does Spicy Tuna get here?” Smith’s daughter asked.

The center quickly made himself a fan favorite during a quick speech at the team’s welcome party at the Delta Center in April.

Smith’s plate is full with a long list of things to do for his new hockey club to get ready to hit the ice in the fall and future seasons. Despite the action items on his list, the owner is excited for the team, the community, and the state of hockey.

“I don’t think people understand where hockey’s at…I’m super excited for our community to see that,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of momentum around the NHL right now.”

To listen to Smith’s entire conversation with Olsen and Garrard, check out the audio player above. You can listen to the Hans & Scotty G. show weekdays from Noon-3 p.m. (MT) on KSL Sports Zone (97.5 FM & 1280 AM).

Kyle Ireland is an insider for Utah’s NHL team for KSLSports.com. Follow him on X (@kyleireland), Threads (@kyleirelandksl), and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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Ryan Smith Calls Acquiring NHL Team ‘As Aggressive, Crazy As Anything’ In Career