The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks faced off in Salt Lake City tonight and it turned out to be quite a success for the Salt Lake community.
When I arrived at the E-Center in West Salt Lake Valley tonight to buy tickets for tonight's game, I was quite surprised to see lines out the door and people in hockey jerseys. It was quite a sight in a city better known for Utah Jazz basketball and as being the place Urban Meyer left to go to Florida.
The stadium was full of hockey fans—not just Sharks and Kings fans, but true fans of the sport. They just wanted to see NHL hockey, and were given less than a stellar show. The Kings looked slow and for the most part overmatched against the Thorton-less Sharks.
The game was rather ho-hum, but it seemed to me that the crowd was into every play waiting for something spectacular. The Sharks, at least, put on a great offensive performance for Utah.
Even though I don't think the NHL will ever come to Salt Lake City, the people of Salt Lake gave me a good reason to think that it would be a good hockey town.
Utah currently has an ECHL team, the Utah Grizzlies, which does not draw huge crowds. But if the NHL or even the AHL were to come to Utah, I think you would see a generation of a rather substantial fan base.
Salt Lake use to have an IHL team, the Salt Lake City Golden Eagles, but Larry H. Miller (the man that owns everything in Utah) decided to sell the team to Detroit. Hockey was in its prime in Salt Lake when the Golden Eagles were around. But now, with only an average ECHL team, the passion for hockey in Utah has left like the Golden Eagles.
Hopefully this night of NHL hockey, even though an exhibition game, might have re-lit the hockey fire in the city of Salt Lake City, and maybe in the state of Utah.
I can only hope.