Gordon Monson: Utah’s new NHL team has no name yet, but the real question is, will it have game?

Reports are indicating trademarks have been filed anonymously for names like Utah Blizzard, Utah Venom, Utah Fury, Utah Hockey Club and Utah Yetis.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Workers put up signs celebrating the sale of the Arizona Coyotes and its accompanying relocation to Salt Lake City, at the Delta Center on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Salt Lake City. The NHL team will be known as Utah, at least initially. New owner Ryan Smith says the name will begin with Utah and he does not want to rush the process of rebranding the franchise upon relocation.

What’s in a name? Apparently, more than what the average Joe and Jane might think. That’s what Ryan Smith figures, considering he said on Thursday that he will take his own good, long, deliberate time to come up with a proper handle for his new NHL team.

There will be no rush to name this baby.

Smith, indeed, is like that parent who’s perfectly willing to call his newborn “Baby X” for an extended period, in this case maybe for a year or longer, to get the moniker just right. He’s the dad that needs to get to know the infant, to look into its eyes, to see its face, to study its mannerisms and personality before bestowing that blessed title.

It doesn’t seem like it would be all that complicated. There are plenty of strong, cool names to choose from. Many of us have offered up suggestions, rock-solid ones that would work perfectly. I’ve offered 50 in a column already, 51 — if you include the one suggested by a reader who likes Screaming Eagles, in honor of Utah Beach and the heroic contributions of the 101st Airborne during the Normandy invasion.

Gladiators has a nice formidable ring to it. Black Diamonds is fine. Scorpions, good. Raptors, uh-huh. Ice-O-Topes, not so much.

But, really, what’s the hangup, Ryan? Let’s name the kid, right here, right now, while we’re all young. Let’s get it done.

Nope, he’s not budging. Some people are like that. We’ll be patient alongside, we’ll wait.

Reports are indicating trademarks have been filed anonymously for names like Utah Blizzard, Utah Venom, Utah Fury, Utah Hockey Club and Utah Yetis, but whether that means anything significant is yet uncertain.

Nobody wants Smith to hurry into a mistake, like, say, oh, I dunno, changing a team’s colors from classic purple to yellow and black, transforming the favorite and familiar standard into a team that looks like a roped-off police action or a mustard smear. Actually, yellow and black, done right, aren’t all that bad.

One thing the proud new owner did acknowledge is that the team name would be the Utah Whatevers, not the Salt Lake Whoozits, which is no huge surprise on account of the fact that Smith himself does not live in Salt Lake City and he in his doings as a Utah native has a habit of talking up the whole state, not just its capital city. He wants everyone from Snowville to St. George, from Vernal to Wendover, and points in-between and beyond, to find connection to his new team. He wants everybody in the pool and around the ice and proud to buy tickets and gizmos and gear.

OK, then.

Regardless of what the squad will be called or when it will be called it, there is advice the team needs to hear and take. Not just the players, but Smith all the way to the ushers, to the managers, the coaches, every individual involved in the operation.

A fellow named Sean Kuraly was talking during a recent season-ending interview, saying good stuff, stuff folks the Utah Whatevers need to hear, need to process, need to give thought to and put into action.

If you don’t know who Kuraly is, it’s time to start getting acquainted with him and some 700 other active players around the NHL. He’s nobody’s star, just a forward, a dude who worked his tail to get to the NHL and to stay there. But the 31-year-old vet with the Columbus Blue Jackets — a team that, like the Coyotes-turned-Whatevers, did not qualify for the playoffs this season, a team with a steep climb in front of it — was asked about the ongoing success of another team, the playoff-qualified Boston Bruins, and what he learned back when he played for them.

That success translates, Kuraly pronounced, to every team willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win on the reg. This is what he said of the Bruins and winners like them, teams the Whatevers want to model themselves after moving forward:

“It’s like a machine that’s hard to start and it’s hard to stop. No matter who’s coming in and who’s going out, it takes a hell of a lot of work to get it going and build it. And it takes a lot of … um, it takes less to keep it going than it does to start it. That’s what they’ve got there. That’s, as an organization, where you’re looking to go. How do you start that? It’s one piece at a time, a little progress [at a time]. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got a ton of work in front of us. There’s no secret there. The results, the consistent results, come from consistent actions. It can look amazing and a miracle from the outside, but if you’re in those walls on a daily basis, it’s just one foot in front of the other. But each day you’ve got to take a step.

He added: “You look in the mirror. We’ve all got to be better. … As a player, you get a locker room full of men at the beginning of a season and you set expectations for yourselves and you try to meet or exceed them.

“I think it’s something we’re going to have to work to build. We’ve got a long way to go. … You want to be a consistent playoff team. You can say that all day, that’s hot air. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Whatevers have a lot of work to do, as well. We’ll see where Baby X goes from here.

But Kuraly added one other thing. He gave credit to the Blue Jacket fans, who arrived en force, despite the team’s troubles, on and off the ice, this go-round.

He said: “The story of the season is our fans. This season, our fans have shown through. [It wasn’t] the product we wanted to show them at all times. But were we impressed with how they showed up on a nightly basis.”

Yeah, it’s not just what’s in a name, but what’s in a game. And Utah fans will reveal how they feel about their new Whatevers soon enough.