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MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens announced on Tuesday that they have agreed 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.

“This agreement provides our organization with an interesting opportunity to expand our development pipeline here in Quebec, while allowing us to closely monitor the development of some of our prospects. The ECHL is a league that deserves more recognition for the talent it displays and for its high quality of play,” said John Sedgwick, the Canadiens’ Vice-President of Hockey Operations and Legal Affairs. “The decision to move our AHL affiliate team to Laval proved to be very successful, and the advantage of having another affiliate nearby in Trois-Rivières will be very convenient for our hockey operations and to continue scouting local talent.”

The ECHL has been in operation since 1988 and will be entering its 34th season in 2021-22. Throughout its existence, it has helped produce many players that have moved on to successful careers in the AHL and NHL. A number of Canadiens players – past and present – have swept through the minor league before dawning the bleu-blanc-rouge in front of the Montreal faithful. Players like Brett KulakBen Chiarot, David Desharnais, Francis Bouillon, Jaroslav Halak, Mark Streit and Alex Belzile are all products of the ECHL, where they developed their skills before showcasing them on the big stage in the NHL. Alex Burrows, assistant coach of the Laval Rocket, also began his professional playing career in the ECHL before becoming a household name in the NHL.

“This partnership with the Canadiens is an important moment for our new franchise in Trois-Rivières. While contributing to the development of hockey in Mauricie and Quebec, this affiliation with the Canadiens will add credibility and notoriety to our project of bringing hockey back to Trois-Rivières,” said Mark Weightman, President and CEO of the new franchise. “We are excited about the thought of our fans cheering on a group of prospects that one day may play for the Canadiens. I am convinced that an affiliation with the Canadiens will create a passionate connection within our fanbase.”

The new ECHL franchise in Trois-Rivières will play its home games out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a modern and multifunctional arena with a 5,000-seat capacity (including luxury suites), scheduled to open in the summer of 2021.

On November 23, the Trois-Rivières ECHL Hockey Club confirmed its management team, which includes former Canadiens defenseman Marc-André Bergeron as vice-president and general manager.