Delta Center celebration for Utah’s NHL team draws huge crowds

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Thousands of Utah hockey fans gathered outside the Delta Center before the celebration was even supposed to start. Once the doors opened, Utah fans packed the Delta Center to the rafters. By the time the new owners of the NHL team, Ryan and Ashley Smith, stepped on the stage, they had 29,000 reservations for season tickets, which require a $100 deposit.

Get ready for the “Spicy Tuna”

Spicy Tuna. Photo: Kirsten Kohlwey
Jack McBain. Photo: Kirsten Kohlwey
Utah NHL team. Photo: Kirsten Kohlwey

As the players introduced themselves one by one, Liam O’Brian called himself the “Spicy Tuna.” He is originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The fans enthusiastically joined Jack McBain, a player from Toronto, Ontario, when he started a “Spicy Tuna” chant during his introduction. One of the players talked about how 1,000 fans greeted them at the airport. As Ashley Smith said earlier, “Utah shows up.”

Utah’s hockey history

Utah has a long hockey history, starting with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1969. Today, four of Utah’s colleges have hockey teams competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. An impressive 2,500 Amateur hockey players are officially registered in the state. The Utah Grizzlies, a minor league professional team, welcomed the new NHL team to Utah in their official statement. They won the IHL Championship in their first year in Utah in 1996.

Governor Cox sets high expectations

Governor Spencer Cox welcomed the players, calling it a “historic day for the State of Utah.” Then he asked the 12,000 fans in the stadium to promise to come back for the parade when the team wins the Stanley Cup.

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