If Salt Lake City got an NHL team, what would it be called? “It has to be a momentum builder.”

In the summer of 1979, Salt Lake City inherited its first major league professional sports franchise.

The NBA moved a struggling New Orleans team to Salt Lake City, with the league's Board of Governors approving the move on June 9, 1979. With only four months to go until its first home game was played, the team quickly held a contest to name the new team. Team based in Salt Lake City.

But original team owner Sam Battiston was not impressed with the offers.

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“The names that came up, nothing seemed to fit.” Battiston said in a 2008 interview: About the naming process.

In the end, they stuck with jazz — a moniker that certainly reflects New Orleans' bustling music scene more than anything associated with Salt Lake City.

The city could be on the verge of inheriting another professional franchise, as the Arizona Coyotes could be in position to move to Salt Lake City as early as this fall.

And this time, they can put their unique geographic stamp on a moniker more representative of Salt Lake City and Utah. Earlier this week, Jazz owner Ryan Smith — who recently opened up about… The athlete About his desire to join an NHL team – he took to social media to seek out potential titles for a team in his city.

What does Ryan Smith think about the naming process?

As part of an extensive interview with The athlete Smith said last month that he had not settled on a nickname and was planning to seek input from hockey fans throughout Utah.

“I was part of a very large survey company that could do this,” Smith said with a laugh, referring to his software company, Qualtrics.

Before launching an official poll this week, Smith said he was fully aware of the suggestions that were already circulating online. Since he announced his intentions to pursue an NHL franchise in late January, fans have been flooding social media spaces with ideas for a title shot.

“I was online and saw everything people came up with,” Smith said. “There's no shortage, so I'm confident the channel will be really great.”

Smith said he has watched the popularity of the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken and understands how important the nickname is in creating an identity for a brand-new team that has never had NHL hockey in its market.

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“It has to be something that makes people want to be a part of it, of all ages. It has to be a momentum builder,” Smith said.

Smith was not willing to indicate what direction he was basing his name on, only admitting that he was open to any suggestions.

“The sky is the limit on this,” Smith said. “We will have to approve it and the league will have to approve it.”

What are some of the most popular names that fans have come up with?

As Smith mentioned, there has been no shortage of nicknames for Utah hockey fans to offer. After he published his poll, dozens of potential nicknames came to the fore.

Many of the suggestions relate to Utah's mountainous and rugged terrain, where yetis, elk and mountaineers have been put forward by many fans. There is some appeal to the idea of ​​adopting the franchise for the Golden Eagles — the same moniker used by the hugely popular IHL team that flourished in Salt Lake City in the 1980s.

Since Utah is known as the “Beehive State,” suggestions of a hive or stinger are also on the radar.


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The name Saints or Pioneers will be a tribute to the Mormon settlers who helped found Salt Lake City in the 1800s and remain an essential part of the community.

With Salt Lake City About to be announced As hosts of the Winter Olympics for the second time, the idea of ​​Olympians could be relatable to some fans.

Not only will Blizzard have a winter theme, but it will also allow another double “zz” title – like Jazz – into the market.

Can Salt Lake City keep the Coyotes name?

Considering that the NBA team retained the Jazz moniker when moving from New Orleans, there is always the idea of ​​keeping the Coyotes name if Salt Lake City inherits its own NHL franchise.

But history tells us they will likely adopt a new franchise name in Salt Lake City. Since 1980, seven NHL franchises have moved to a new city. In five of those cases, they chose a completely new nickname when they changed locations.

Only Calgary and Dallas chose to stick with the original name – although Dallas chose to drop the “northern” part of the name and just refer to them as the Stars.

In the NBA, there have been more examples of transferred franchises retaining their original title. In addition to the Jazz, which kept their name despite moving from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, there are six other NBA teams that use the same nickname from a previous city.

NBA teams use transferred nicknames

The old team New team

Minneapolis Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers

Fort Wayne Pistons

Detroit Pistons

St. Louis Hawks

atlanta hawks

San Diego Rockets

Houston Rockets

Kansas City Kings

Sacramento Kings

Vancouver Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies

What timelines could be in place for naming the team?

When the Atlanta Thrashers were officially sold and moved to Winnipeg at the end of May 2011, there was a lot of speculation about returning the franchise to the old Jets moniker.

However, they did not officially announce it until 24 June 2011, when owner Mark Chapman took to the podium and revealed the team name before the club selected Mark Scheifele as its first ever selection.

“I am now pleased to introduce Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Sheveldayoff, who will make our first selection on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets,” Chapman said after receiving the award. Thunderous applause from the Winnipeg fans Who made the drive to St. Paul to recruit.

When we look at the last four NHL transfers, there has been significant variation in the timing of the franchise's new title reveal.

Days between sale and official naming

Commercial franchise Date of sale announcement Date the name was announced days in between

Colorado Avalanche

May 26, 1995

August 10, 1995


Phoenix Coyotes

December 5, 1995

April 8, 1996


Carolina Hurricanes

May 7, 1997

May 7, 1997


Winnipeg Jets

May 31, 2011

June 24, 2011


In May of 1997, Hurricanes were declared immediately As a new nickname for the team moving from Hartford to North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Avalanche did not introduce their nickname, logo and team colors until August 10, 1995 – 76 days after the team was officially sold and moved from Quebec City to Denver.

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Will they be called “Salt Lake City” or “Utah”?

Once they have an NHL franchise, Smith and his leadership team will have to decide whether they want to be named after Salt Lake City or Utah State.

In the current North American sports landscape, a number of teams are named after their state or region, rather than their city. In Major League Baseball, for example, there are the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Even teams like the New England Patriots (NFL) and Golden State Warriors (NBA) have atypical names that are not restricted to a specific city.

In the NHL, there are six franchises named after a state – not a city.

NHL teams are named after states

Team Name city

Arizona coyotes

Tempe, Arizona

Carolina Hurricanes

Raleigh, North Carolina

Colorado Avalanche

Denver, CO

Florida Panthers

Sunrise, Florida

Minnesota Wild

St. Paul, MN

New Jersey Devils

Newark, New Jersey

There's also the idea that Salt Lake City is too long on its own — three separate words before you even think about adding a nickname. In 2016, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said he chose to drop the “Las” from the team's name and simply make it “Vegas” because This is how the locals referred to the city. With that in mind, there may be the possibility of dropping the word “city” to make it easier for “Salt Lake” to roll off the tongue with an additional moniker.

In his interview with The athlete Last month, Smith made his fondness for the entire state of Utah — not just Salt Lake City — very clear. He acknowledged that the entire area is nicknamed “Silicon Slopes” — a reference to the exploding tech industry that has made Utah the fastest-growing state in America, according to the 2020 census. Utah was too The highest-ranking state in America in a recent study Which analyzed different categories including economy, infrastructure and financial stability.

As Smith said at one point during that interview, “Utah is having a moment. I don't think it's going to slow down any time soon.”

You can buy tickets for every NHL game here.

(Photo of Salt Lake City skyline: by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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