The Hamilton Spectator

Is an NHL team on its way to Salt Lake City?


Preparatio­ns are being made behind the scenes and in the public eye in case a National Hockey League team is in Salt Lake City sooner than later.

Prospectiv­e owner Ryan Smith on social media earlier this week solicited suggestion­s for a team name. Smith, who owns the National Basketball Associatio­n’s Utah Jazz, in January noted not only his interest in having an NHL club in Salt Lake City but the ability to make that happen immediatel­y.

The Smith Entertainm­ent Group asked at the time for the initiation of an expansion process, something multiple groups in Atlanta are also eager for. It also comes amid continued uncertaint­y surroundin­g the Arizona Coyotes, who are playing a second season in a 5,000-seat arena and are still looking for a long-term home.

NHL Players’ Associatio­n executive director Marty Walsh has repeatedly expressed frustratio­n over the Coyotes’ current situation as the second tenant in a building on Arizona State’s campus in Tempe. Commission­er Gary Bettman has said owner Alex Meruelo is working on it.

“It’s hard work, and he’s committed to it,” Bettman said last month. “I think people are craving certainty. And we are, too, but this isn’t a 60-minute game where the light goes on and the game’s over.”

The Coyotes last week said they’re committed to winning an auction for a plot of land in Phoenix that would house a 17,000-seat arena and entertainm­ent district. The Arizona State Land Department set the auction for June 27 with a starting bid of $68.5 million (U.S.).

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