The NHL’s attempt at hockey in the desert is going on hiatus.

On Thursday, the NHL put to bed any lingering conspiracies or questions about the future of the Arizona Coyotes and announced that the team was officially moving to Salt Lake City. Ryan and Ashley Smith, who lead the Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), will be the two owners of the team, who will have a new name and branding due to not having the rights to the Coyotes trademark.

However, several major elements of the Coyotes will carry over when the team relocates, including the roster, draft picks and Hockey Operations Department. The Arizona Coyotes name will be designated as “inactive,” but it could be brought back if owner Alex Meruelo can create a new, NHL-ready stadium for the team in the next five years.

“As everyone knows, Utah is a vibrant and thriving state, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the statement released by the NHL. “We are also delighted to welcome Ashley and Ryan Smith to the NHL family and know they will be great stewards of the game in Utah. We thank them for working so collaboratively with the League to resolve a complex situation in this unprecedented and beneficial way.”

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Both Smiths displayed excitement in the statement to have a team in Salt Lake City. “This is a transformative day for our state and our fans,” they said. “Our intention had always been to pursue an expansion team. Commissioner Bettman conceived and proposed an ingenious plan that would allow us to acquire an NHL franchise while also helping to address and remedy an immediate need of the NHL. ”

“We are committed to building a Stanley Cup-contending team and are thrilled to welcome incredible players, coaches, staff, and their families to Utah. Today is a great day for Utah, for hockey, and for building a legacy that will have a lasting impact on generations to come.”

For the Arizona Coyotes fan base, the news of the team’s relocation has to be painful. The team relocated to Phoenix in 1996, during the NHL’s decades-long plan to bring professional ice hockey to the Sun Belt region of the United States. The Coyotes were rarely at the top of the league standings, making it as far as the Western Conference Finals only once in the 2011-2012 season.

The NHL had to take control of the franchise temporarily in 2009 after then-owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy. Ever since, the Coyotes have had trouble securing agreements with local stadiums for them to play home games, eventually resorting to playing at Mullett Arena at Arizona State University in the team’s last two seasons.

The state of Utah has a history of hockey and winter sports at large. In its history, the state had two lower-level hockey teams, the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies and the WHL’s Salt Lake Golden Eagles, although the latter relocated to Detroit in 1994. Several former Golden Eagles players, including Kevin Cheveldayoff and Theo Fleury, went on to be successful in the NHL

The city also hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, and the region is well-known as one of the best places in the United States for skiing and other snow-related sports.

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