Ryan Smith places official bid to bring NHL team to the Beehive State

Ryan Smith broke into the sports world in 2020 when he purchased the Utah Jazz from longtime owner, Gail Miller.

Since then, the Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) has delved into the Delta Center, Real Salt Lake, the Utah Royals, and many other Utah-based sporting ventures.

The newest venture for Smith & Co: Hockey.

The NHL has been in talks with Smith for two years about bringing a potential expansion team to Utah. On Wednesday morning, SEG officially announced the plans to “initiate an expansion process” to Utah.

The NHL responded to SEG’s announcement in a statement that has left Utah Hockey lovers optimistic, describing the Beehive state as a “promising market.”

Smith, a BYU alum, has been interested in the NHL for some time now. It was reported that Smith was a potential bidder to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2021. He has not stopped in his pursuit to partner with the NHL.

Ryan Smith, part-owner of Real Salt Lake, speaks during a news conference announcing the return of the Utah Royals to the National Women’s Soccer League, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Sandy, Utah. The NWSL and Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake announced the second iteration of the Royals. The Royals were part of the NWSL for three seasons from 2018 to 2020. (Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP)

“We’re not only ready, but hockey would thrive here the same it has in Seattle and also in Vegas,” Smith said in an interview with The Athletic in 2023.

The last NHL expansion team to take the ice was the Seattle Kraken. In 2017 Seattle announced their intentions to start the expansion process and one year later the NHL officially announced Seattle as their newest franchise.

If Utah follows the same process as Seattle, Utahns could be buying new hockey merchandise next January.

Until then, fans will have to wait and see.

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