The Montreal Canadiens officially announced the long-rumoured affiliation with the new ECHL expansion franchise in Trois-Rivières.
The Canadiens have come to an agreement on a three-year deal with the new hockey franchise in Trois-Rivières, making it the team’s official ECHL affiliate upon entry into the league for the 2021-22 season.#GoHabsGo https://t.co/tPrZPJ5UFE— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 19, 2021
The expansion team is scheduled to join the league for the 2021-22 season and becomes the first ECHL affiliation for the Canadiens since they parted ways with the Brampton Beast at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.
Since then the Canadiens used numerous ECHL teams for housing their players, notably the Maine Mariners, the Adirondack Thunder, and back to the Beast. A new affiliation will allow the Canadiens to have a bit more control over the development of the depth players and the selection of the coaching staff to guide them.
The Trois-Rivières expansion franchise has been talked about for seemingly years, but negotiations with the city for an arena lease were a long arduous process with a lot of dead stops along the way. The delay was such that the window to start the 2020-21 season passed, which actually ended up being a blessing in disguise for everyone given the uncertainty of live sporting events headed into the fall and winter.
With the parties eventually finding common ground on the lease, it paved the way for the obvious affiliation with the Canadiens, and likely a more than willing blessing from the ECHL itself who probably can’t help but be thrilled at the prospect of an engaged Canadiens team.
The success of the Toronto Maple Leafs with the Newfoundland Growlers only serves to highlight the gap that the Canadiens had in their development ladder, but that now can be addressed with Trois-Rivières.
The last time that the Canadiens organization was truly engaged in the success of an ECHL affiliate would probably go back to 2007-08 when the ‘Flying Frenchmen’ of David Desharnais, Cedrick Desjardins, Olivier Latendresse, and Mathieu Aubin helped the Cincinnati Cyclones dominate the ECHL to win the Kelly Cup in 2008. Since then, the level of support varied, with the Canadiens not even having an official affiliate from 2010 to 2015 until they partnered with the Beast.