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NHL in Utah

It’s Official: Utah is Getting an NHL Franchise



With the conclusion of the NHL regular season, it’s now official. The state of Utah is getting its first professional NHL franchise.

On Thursday, the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the creation of a new Utah-based NHL franchise to be owned by Smith Entertainment Group. The group, lead by Ryan and Ashley Smith, who also own the NBA’s Utah Jazz, will now relocate the the assets of the Phoenix Coyotes to Salt Lake City and rebrand as a to-be-named-later Utah NHL hockey team.

The move comes quickly after the latest arena saga disaster for the Phoenix Coyotes.

At the NHL All-Star break, reports surfaced the NHL would create a backup schedule with the Coyotes in Salt Lake City if the organization did not have an arena plan in place. After the latest deal involving Scottsdale fell through, the NHL sprang into action.

With Smith already a vocal proponent of bringing an NHL team to Utah, the pieces were already in place and the NHL wasted no time finishing the deal, notifying the players and ratifying the move.

Following the approval, new owners Ryan and Ashley Smith thanked the NHL for entrusting them with the franchise.

“We are honored to bring an NHL team to Utah and understand the responsibility we have as stewards of a new NHL franchise. This is a transformative day for our state and our fans. Our intention had always been to pursue an expansion team. Commissioner Bettman conceived and proposed an ingenious plan that would allow us to acquire an NHL franchise while also helping to address and remedy an immediate need of the NHL. When he approached us and asked us for help resolving this situation, we made the bold decision to introduce a new franchise in Utah, fully understanding that we are stepping up to do something in a time frame and way that has never been done before in professional sports under these circumstances.

We are committed to building a Stanley Cup contending team and are thrilled to welcome incredible players, coaches, staff, and their families to Utah. Today is a great day for Utah, for hockey, and for building a legacy that will have a lasting impact for generations to come.”

Utah, who now owns the hockey assets of the Phoenix Coyotes, including players, hockey operations department and draft picks, will pick a new name and be a brand-new franchise in the eyes of the league.

Where Will the Utah Hockey Team Play?

The new team will make it’s home at The Delta Center in Salt Lake City, which it will share with the Utah Jazz.

In order to accommodate the team, the Delta Center will be retrofitted to be more hockey friendly until a brand new arena can be built.

What will the New Utah Franchise be Named?

Nobody knows what the Utah team will be named, but ownership has since announced that it will let the fans vote for the name, bracket style. There is no current timetable for the vote or a final decision.

What Happens to the Coyotes?

Somewhat confusingly, the Arizona Coyotes players, hockey operations department and draft picks move to the Utah team. The Coyotes will now be known as an inactive franchise, but will retain name, logo and history. They will have an opportunity to reactivate if owner Alex Meruelo can build an NHL-approved arena in Arizona within five years.

“It is simply unfair to continue to have our Players, coaches, hockey front office, and the NHL teams they compete against, spend several more years playing in an arena that is not suited for NHL hockey. But this is not the end for NHL hockey in Arizona. I have negotiated the right to reactivate the team within the next five years, and have retained ownership of the beloved Coyotes name, brand and logo. I remain committed to this community and to building a first-class sports arena and entertainment district without seeking financial support from the public.”

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