Utah Hockey Club general manager Bill Armstrong is getting a little more public attention than he’s used to.

Fans of the NHL’s newest franchise made an impression from the beginning, when they packed the Delta Center in April to welcome the team from Arizona, and the recognition has continued as Armstrong has settled into his new home in Salt Lake City.

“They’re tuned in. This is a big thing. This is a big thing in the state of Utah and Salt Lake and you can feel that,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong has gone from “undetected” in Arizona to having Utah fans wave to him on the street and Uber drivers recognizing him when they pick him up for a ride.

“It‘s kind of weird because they know who you are and when you’re in Arizona, you went undetected, now you’re in Salt Lake and they know who you are,” he said.

Despite the move to Utah from Arizona, which came during draft preparation, it’s been pretty much business as usual for Armstrong and his staff, which hold 13 picks in Friday’s NHL draft, including No. 6 overall. There’s been some travel back and forth from Arizona — draft workouts for 12 prospects that Utah could pick from the fourth to the seventh rounds were held in the Grand Canyon State — but owner Ryan Smith and his management team tried to make it as seamless as possible.

Obviously, the scouting and draft process will remain the same as it has been for Armstrong and his staff, but as the front office transitions into its next era, there’s a buzz from everyone involved in the club.

“I think the excitement is that you’re really ushering in a new era and you can just see how excited people are in Utah about what’s going on and who are we going to get and it is just exciting for our staff,” Armstrong said.

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Though the franchise did participate in the NHL draft lottery, Friday’s draft — which will be held at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Sphere on the Las Vegas Strip — is the first major league event that Utah will be a part of.

In Las Vegas, whomever Utah selects with the No. 6 pick will be among the first-ever to wear Utah’s new jersey — either the black home or white away threads — which have a diagonal “Utah” wordmark across the chest and light blue and white or black piping on the sleeves and at the bottom of the sweater.

“It starts at the draft. That’s the first kickoff where we walk in there with the Utah colors and go to work. So there’s a tremendous amount of excitement around just having the first draft and representing Utah. It’s going to be a great day,” Armstrong said.

For fans back in Salt Lake City, the organization is hosting a free draft watch party at the Delta Center on Friday, with doors opening at 4 p.m. MDT and the NHL draft starting at 5 p.m. MDT. Fans will watch the ESPN NHL draft broadcast on the arena jumbotron, Utah players Josh Doan and Dylan Guenther will sign autographs before the draft begins, and there will be photo opportunities on-ice, prizes and giveaways, and the first chance for fans to purchase Utah Hockey Club merchandise.

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