The bear stuck in a Salt Lake City tree is a sign for our hockey team

A bear looks out from a tree in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.
A bear looks out from a tree in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Today there was a bear stuck in a tree in the Marmalade district of Salt Lake City.

I have to be honest, I did not know we had bears near Salt Lake City — even though there is already a hockey team in Utah called the Grizzlies based in West Valley. I think maybe conceptually I knew they were bears somewhere deep in our surrounding mountains, but I never thought it was possible that an actual black bear would make its way into our capital city and then climb up a tree. Nor did I think it possible that a bear could get stuck in a tree. Isn’t tree climbing their whole thing? I guess I don’t know much about bears.

The Salt Lake City police department coordinated swiftly with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and together they got the adolescent bear down from the tree, a little sooner than expected.

I am delighted by these events, except the part about the bear falling on the sidewalk. But according to Scott Root, conservation outreach manager for the DWR, the bear appeared to be uninjured and ran off “very well” when released in the central region.

Bear in Tree SLC_KM_892.JPG
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources employees and a Salt Lake City police officer carry a trapped bear that was in a tree in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The bear fell from the tree after it was tranquilized. They will release the bear in an area away from humans and livestock. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Now that we know the bear and Salt Lake City’s small pets are safe, it’s time for us to ponder what kind of message the bear was trying to send.

In my opinion, it’s pretty clear. Today’s bear incident was a sign for our yet-to-be-named hockey team.

As team owners Ryan Smith and Ashley Smith and the powers that be circle in on a what to call the team, I believe we would be remiss, in light of today’s events, if we didn’t add something bear-adjacent to the list of four names rumored to be the finalists.

“But,” you might be saying, “we already have a bear attached to the Utah Jazz.” Well, I have great news. Much like the team being named “The Utah Jazz,” in a city that last I checked had zero jazz stations on the radio, having a bear as the mascot for the Utah Jazz has never made a ton of sense and picking a new mascot for the Jazz would actually be the logical thing to do.

And I don’t know a lot about sports, but I have been told we’re in a “rebuilding phase” with our basketball team, so why not really start over and make a new mascot? Shouldn’t it be more on theme anyway? Maybe it could be a dancing saxophone or slide trombone. That would free up the bear costume to be used at our hockey games. Just swap out the jerseys.

“But,” you might be saying, “Isn’t the name Utah Bears kind of boring?” Yes. It is. And It’s definitely been done. Which is why I personally don’t think the name should be something so commonplace as just “The Bears.” No, I think we really need to make this team name ours. Get really specific with it. Might I propose: The Utah Bears Stuck In Trees in the Marmalade District?

We could go ham with this. Fashion the hockey sticks with branches and leaves. Bring a trampoline out at halftime and let crowd volunteers drop teddy bears from the top of a ladder and whoever lands it on the trampoline gets a new car. Refs could wear DWR uniforms.

I’m just spitballing here. Not all of these ideas are going to be winners. I’m not really sure any of them are good.

But I am sure that the bear stuck in the Marmalade district of Salt Lake City was a sign from hockey heaven. What’s better than our new team name to roar with a touch of (apparently) local, wild flavor? Not much.