Utah owner Ryan Smith divulges name and uniform plans

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, left, listens to Ryan Smith, co-founder and chairman of Smith Entertainment Group, speak during a news conference Friday, April 19, 2024, in Salt Lake City about the moved of the Arizona Coyotes franchise to Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)

Utah’s NHL team will use a March Madness-style bracket to determine a name and share some uniform similarities with the NBA’s Jazz.

Those were two of the key takeaways of an interview with Utah co-owner Ryan Smith on the 32 Thoughts podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on Tuesday.

“The goal is we want it to be by Utah, for Utah, and let our fans and our people and our players take part in creating that,” said Smith, whose purchase of the Arizona Coyotes was confirmed last week.

Smith, who also owns the Jazz with his wife, Ashley, said he envisions some shared uniform concepts between the teams.

“If you look at the mountains on the (Jazz) jersey, I think that kind of breeds a little bit of a colour palette naturally, of fresh ice, the whole setup, blue skies, you see that,” he said. “In a dream scenario, there’s a Venn diagram where you’ve got the Jazz and this team … where things could kind of overlap.

“You’ve got to leave a little room for teams to get out and do special stuff that’s not going to be part of that diagram,” he added. “But I think there can be a really cool symmetry and I don’t think it has to just be like Pittsburgh or everything else where everything’s the exact same colour.”

As for a nickname, fans are going to have a say with a bracket, Smith said.

“We have like six or eight names that seem to be the ones,” he said. “We’ve engaged Qualtrics (founded by Smith and partners) to do it from a survey standpoints and grab all the feedback and run the brackets so it’s right.”

Several names have been rumoured, including Blizzard, Venom, Black Diamonds, Yetis and Golden Eagles.

“I have my opinion but this is part of the reason why I want to do it with the fans is because unfortunately, or fortunately, my opinion weighs pretty heavily here,” Smith said. “That’s not what we’re trying to do. I truly want this fanbase to be able to name it.”

When asked to name most interesting text he had received since buying the Coyotes, Smith wasn’t ready to point to just one person.

But he did mention he got messages from many Canadian basketball players previously on the Jazz, including current Toronto Raptors centre Kelly Olynyk, as well as another notable hoops figure.

“Charles Barkley texting, saying, ‘Hey, if you need a goalie, I’m available on the cheap,'” Smith said. “I thought that was pretty good.”

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