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How Long Can It Possibly Take To Name A Team?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 19: The main entrance of the Delta Center is seen with the "NHL in Utah" logos on April 19, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The NHL has allowed the sale of the Arizona Coyotes and the team will relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images

It did not take long for Ryan Smith, the owner of the relocated Arizona Coyotes who will open in Salt Lake City this October, to become an annoyance with an eye toward becoming a complete pain in the ass. By turning the naming of the team into a genuine ordeal —several rounds of fan voting, brackets pitting nicknames against each other like it was some sort of marketers' Frozen Four, doing the original unveil on Pat McAfee's show, promising the name, colors, logos and all the other sellable schmatta would not be revealed for months—Smith made it clear that he is going to milk this for all it's worth, which of course is less than he thinks. It feels, in truth, like a gigantic promotional contrivance for a team name that only really has one answer.

But first, the list of 20 names slapped on a fan ballot from which he plans to allow the customers to choose:

Black Diamonds

Most of these, of course, are lame on their face. Canyons? "Let's Go Holes"? Frost? Ice? Squall? A tribute to lousy weather. Powder? Do we even need to go down this wormhole? HC? Oh, shut up with that.

Others are linked to the state's nickname, "The Beehive State," like Hive, Swarm, and Venom. And Blizzard is part of the state's historical fetish of using the Z in lieu of S (Salt Ratz, Owlz) and the double-Z when they can get away with it (Jazz of course, plus Buzz, Blitzz, Catzz, Freezz and the runaway winner, the Zion Pioneerzz). So I guess we should be thankful for the fact that Smith is cutting the citizens that much of a break.

But the truly troubling thing here is that we have no guarantee that Smith will adhere to the winning name if he doesn't like it. What if after the voters go all in on Yeti, he decides that he doesn't want to own a team called the Yeti and names them the Smiths, with a hammer and anvil as a logo? Who tells him to honor the process when the process is his?

And why is this process taking so long? The team will wear sweaters that say “Utah” in their first season, and won’t adopt their branding until 2025–26. Is the idea of voting on something else in this calendar year considered so off-putting by your average Utahn? And why would you want your team to be named by people who want to be called "Utahns"? Shouldn't it be Utahnzz?

And no logos to go with the names, or even color palettes? Is that considered too racy in Utah? Is there only one graphic artist in town, who's backed up with wedding announcements through the summer? As far as this one goes, Smith is waiting for the name to be settled on before farming out the logo and color designs to a marketing group that has given us such memorable blah-fests as the Detroit Pistons logo (a ball with Detroit Pistons written on it) and the Brooklyn Nets logo (a ball with B written on it). Given this kind of potential originality, this is a job that could actually be done in 20 minutes by Smith's nephew Montmorency Housebound III.

And that takes a year? Even someone with Smith's energy and eagerness to pretend to be a man of the folks has to know that the folks aren't going to wait on tenterhooks until Christmas for Caribou. They might not even wait for Yeti, which is the right answer we promised you seven paragraphs ago. The fans deserve an expedited process here, and something way better than what you did with the Jazz jerseys.

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