BRAMPTON – The wait is over for fans of the Brampton Beast.
The team announced Thursday evening that the Montreal Canadiens will be its NHL affiliate starting next season, signing a one year agreement with the historic, original six franchise, and its American Hockey League partner, the St. John’s IceCaps.
This deal gives Montreal its own ECHL partner, after sharing the Wheeling Nailers alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. It also provides Brampton with its first NHL affiliate, after playing without one in its inaugural ECHL season.
“Any hockey fan will agree, the most storied franchise of all time is the Montreal Canadiens,” Beast General Manager Cary Kaplan told those in attendance at Brampton City Hall on Thursday. “If people still say ‘Who are you?’ We are the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.”
The relationship between both parties opened up midway through last season, with Habs prospect and 2012 second round-pick Dalton Thrower dressing in 37 games for the Beast, recording three goals and three assists on the Brampton blue-line.
“We realized then, the professionalism that was behind the whole organization,” IceCaps head coach Sylvain Lefebvre said about Thrower’s time with the team. “It spoke for itself for this relationship to start.”
While unable to attend the ceremony in-person, Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin concluded the evening with a video message to those in attendance.
“On behalf of the Canadiens organization and our hockey operations department, we want to thank the Brampton Beast organization and the population of Brampton for making this partnership possible,” he said. “We all know the prospects will be in good hands in Brampton.
“All the best to the Beast for the upcoming season, we’ll all be watching.”
The Beast open their 2015-16 season on Oct. 16th against the Manchester Monarchs in New Hampshire.