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Utah hockey fans will pick the name of its new NHL team — March Madness-style


Utah is known for its winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding. Salt Lake City even hosted the Winter Olympics back in 2002. And now the state has a chance to become a hockey powerhouse, thanks to a newly arrived NHL team.





UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: How about this? Haven't even played a game yet, and we've got our first sellout.

RASCOE: That's a video of the packed event announcing that the former Arizona Coyotes are now officially in Utah.

GORDON MONSON: It was like a rock concert. It was crazy. This place is nuts for hockey right now.

RASCOE: Gordon Monson is a sports columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune. The owners are hoping to channel some of that energy into answering a very important question asked by Pat McAfee on ESPN.


PAT MCAFEE: When are we picking the damn name?

RYAN SMITH: Actually, we're doing a bracket.

MCAFEE: Oh, no, Ryan...


SMITH: What? Why isn't that a good thing?

RASCOE: That's Ryan Smith, the co-owner of the new team, promising to do a small-scale March Madness-style bracket.


SMITH: And I think we're going to take...


SMITH: ...This down from, like, eight all the way down, and the fans are going to vote for this.

RASCOE: So what might those eight names be? A number of trademark applications that seem to be for team names were quickly filed. And Smith confirmed to NPR that some of those applications did come from his team. The trademark names include the Outlaws, the Venom, and the Utah Hockey Club. That's for you fans who like things plain and simple. Columnist Gordon Monson has some other suggestions.

MONSON: From Moose to Blizzard to - a popular one around here seems to be Yetis. I don't know what the connection with that would be with Utah. Ice has been one.

RASCOE: And then there's the more outlandish.

MONSON: Somebody said Isotopes. Well, somebody suggested Skateful Dead, but I don't think that's going to go anywhere.

RASCOE: What about Rhythm and Blues? Get it? Like the NBA's Utah Jazz? Anyway, Smith, the team owner, has a favorite among the more likely names, but he told us he's keeping that a secret.

SMITH: I want our community to truly decide this, and then we're going to go and we're never looking back.

RASCOE: But Smith does feel the need to pick a name quickly.

SMITH: You know, we've got the draft coming up and things like that. I mean, the good news is we know we're going to be Utah. It's going to be Utah something.

RASCOE: Hey, wait, how about the Utah Something? That's pretty good. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.