It was as joyous a scene as Christmas morning.

As members of Utah’s new NHL team walked off the plane upon landing in Salt Lake City Wednesday morning, they were welcomed by a rabid chorus of gleeful squeals.

The fanfare was provided by hundreds of local youth hockey players, who gathered at Signature Aviation to receive their new ice heroes and usher in a new era of professional sports in the state.

The young skaters — many with the same mullet hairstyles as the pros — donned their team jerseys and clutched signs sporting messages such as “I skipped school to be here,” “I play goalie too” and even “actually, Salt Lake DOESN’T suck,” referring to the infamous arena-wide chant at the Arizona Coyotes’ final game before relocating to the Beehive State.

A number of different chants broke out from the youth faithful, including “Let’s go Utah,” “Let’s go hockey” and cheers related to possible new team names such as the Blizzard, Yetis and Outlaws.

The NHL players were visibly touched by the immediate display of support from their new fan base. They slapped high-fives, snapped selfies and signed jerseys, hockey sticks, posters, hats and even shoes.

“This is the best day of my life,” one youngster exclaimed to his father after a player signed his sneaker.


For the new players in town, the party has only just begun.

Ryan and Ashley Smith will open up the Delta Center Wednesday afternoon for an official welcoming celebration expected to draw thousands of attendees, where the players and coaches will be formally introduced to Salt Lake City on the ice.

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Amid the electric airport environment, one sign stood out above the rest, simply reading: “Welcome to Utah. Stanley Cup 2025.”

And thus, the dream begins.

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