The ECHL's expansion efforts ahead of next season have reached an important new milestone, with the league's newest expansion franchise, located in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, unveiling its inaugural name and logo on Thursday afternoon.
The franchise will be known as the Trois-Rivieres Lions, a nod to the team of the same name that played in the Quebec Hockey League and Eastern Professional Leagues from 1955-1960, and will operate as the official ECHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. For the Canadiens, this now places all professional branches of their organization within the province of Quebec, localizing their collective developmental efforts and allowing for closer contact between all internal levels.
The Canadiens had been without an ECHL affiliate since they ended their partnership with the now-defunct Brampton Beast in 2018. In using the Lions name and logo, the Canadiens are honouring a team that, while largely absent in public consciousness, featured future NHL superstars the likes of Rod Gilbert, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and Jean Ratelle, who followed Gilbert into the Hall of Fame in 1985 and was named one of the 100 Greatest NHLers of all time during the league's centennial celebration in 2017.
Today's unveiling serves as a step towards making this expansion a reality.
Not only are the Canadiens honouring the history of the Lions, establishing further hockey roots in their home province, and fostering greater organizational unity as a result, they're doing so with a pretty snazzy logo.