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Trois-Rivières officially awarded an ECHL franchise

Can an affiliation announcement with the Canadiens be far behind?

After many months of public negotiations between the city of Trois-Rivières and Deacon Sports and Entertainment, a deal was reached on an arena lease for the new Colisée on November 30.

That was the final step before the hopeful ownership group could submit all of their paperwork requesting a franchise license for an expansion ECHL team to the league.

On Tuesday, the ECHL board of governors voted, and Trois-Rivières has been officially granted a franchise alongside Coralville, Iowa for the 2021-22 season.

Trois-Rivières will become the fourth ECHL team on Canadian soil, and a first-ever in Quebec. Teams that preceded it in Canada are the Brampton Beast and the Newfoundland Growlers, as well as the defunct Victoria Salmon Kings which operated from 2004 to 2011. They will also be the first AA minor professional team in the province of Québec since the Rafales de Québec of the International Hockey League, who folded in 1998.

The new team has already launched a team naming contest which has received over 300 suggestions after only a few days, with the first phase of the contest closing on December 20th.

The Laval Rocket’s team naming contest drew around 850 suggestions in comparison, of which 12 finalists were chosen and dwindled down to the top three for fans to vote on. The finalists for Laval were Les Rapides, Les Patriotes, and of course Le Rocket. The winning name was chosen to honour the late great Maurice Richard, so you have to wonder if the pattern will continue in Trois-Rivières with the winning selection honouring local hero Jean Béliveau by taking the name Le Gros Bill, but that doesn’t really roll off of the tongue.

The next step for the franchise would be to announce an affiliation agreement with an NHL club. Currently the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, and the Montreal Canadiens do not have an ECHL affiliate.