What Golden Knights fans can expect with a new Utah team

The NHL is making their way into Utah next season. For Vegas Golden Knights fans, it's still a road trip.
Utah Hosts NHL Welcome Party
Utah Hosts NHL Welcome Party / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Utah is getting a new NHL team, with Ryan Smith taking the reins and the Arizona Coyotes heading north. While the Vegas Golden Knights might lose territory, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited. After all, Vegas has become one of the most well-recognized NHL teams in the past few years.

With that comes a brand new name and a fresh start for the Utah club. Smith wasted no time building up rapport with the hockey fans in the Beehive State, giving the populace the power to choose the name (by the way, wouldn't it be cool if they were named... the Utah Hive? Just a suggestion on what to vote for).

While Golden Knights fans won't be traveling to Arizona (at least, for now), there are reasons to be optimistic about a new team just east of Nevada. There's new hope for the once-beleaguered franchise that went bankrupt at one point. Now, a new man is running the show, bringing hope to hockey fans in the Beehive State.

But what does this all mean for Golden Knights fans? There are a few factors at play that should still let Vegas fans travel to Salt Lake City for a game (or two). Let's explore what the newfound (sort of) franchise has in store for Sin City hockey fans.

Slightly longer travel for Vegas Golden Knights fans

For Vegas Golden Knights fans, traveling to Mullett Arena took exactly five hours. The trip itself spanned 310 miles to the former arena for the Arizona Coyotes. It was a long trip with some pitstops and bathroom breaks involved. Now, Golden Knights fans won't be making that trip down to the college hockey arena anymore.

Instead, a six-hour, eight-minute drive awaits for Golden Knights fans, spanning 420.8 miles. Heading from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City will involve one more pitstop and incredible mountain views. Whether the Golden Knights play at Delta Center once or twice per season, not much will change for their fans except for more flying in by plane.

Utah will actually play in a professional sports arena

The big problem the Arizona Coyotes faced during their desert tenure was their first arena, America West Arena, not being suitable for the NHL. The rink barely fit inside the arena, leaving hockey fans frustrated with the set-up. As a result, the Coyotes left for Glendale and had a conflict of interest laws violated in 2015.

After that, Glendale gives the Coyotes the boot from the now-anointed Desert Diamond Arena, leaving them to go to a college hockey arena in Mullett Arena. Then, the Coyotes moved to Utah, with new ownership led by Smith grabbing the helm (with the NHL's assistance).

Now, the new Utah team will play in the Delta Center, also home to the Utah Jazz. While Delta Center isn't exactly NHL-ready in its own right, Vegas Golden Knights fans won't have to worry about taking a mortgage out for a hockey game. With more seating capacity, prices should be reasonable, with fans invading Salt Lake City by the hundreds.

Finally, stable ownership

With Ryan Smith in the picture, it means the Vegas Golden Knights should finally get a geographical rival that's actually competitive. Smith has pledged to spend money on free agents, bringing the best players to Salt Lake City. That should be good news for Golden Knights fans, who want someone within the vicinity to be competitive.

It's also promising to see an owner provide a battered franchise with a new facelift. The Arizona Coyotes never had a true home in the Phoenix area, with arena troubles plaguing them at every turn. Even with Gary Bettman doing his best to keep the experiment alive, it wasn't meant to be in its present incarnation. For Golden Knights fans, they're hoping Smith can provide stability the same way Bill Foley did when starting his franchise off.