If we are going to talk about the most successful hockey teams in Canada, we have to mention the Ottawa Senators. This team, which is currently part of the NHL, is based in Ottawa, and its name has been around since 1883. The Ottawa Senators have a long history and have accumulated several victories around the years. That’s why here you will find a complete breakdown of their trajectory as one of the most prominent Candian teams.
A fact that many people ignore, is that there have been two teams under the name of the Ottawa Senators. The original club was founded in 1883 and ended during the 1934-35 season. Then, in 1992 the Senators returned to the NHL as an expansion team. Since these organizations are part of the history of the Senators, we need to talk about both of them. First, we will explain the beginning of the Senators, to later focus on their comeback and current standing.
The Ottawa Hockey Club (1883)
Even though their original name is The Ottawa Hockey Club, around 1908, everyone knew the team as the Senators. This original team was one of the first ones to be part of the NHL, the reason why they are considered charter members of the league. During the several seasons that the Senators played before the team ended in 1934, they brought home 11 Stanley Cups. This turned them into one of the most successful teams in Canadian history.
Unfortunately, after the NHL expanded to other American cities, the team started having financial problems at the end of the 1920s. To keep the organization alive, they made a risky attempt to save it by selling their best player, Clancy to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In return, the Senators will get a sum of $35,00, plus two new players for the team. However, even after all those efforts in 1930, the Senators will disappear four years later.
The last years
The team didn’t play during 1931 and leased its players to other organizations in the league. After a one-year break, the Senators returned to the ice, but this will only last for two years due to financial difficulties. During their final season (1934-35), despite all of the problems, they had a good performance overall.
Then, as the team couldn’t continue operations in Ottawa, they moved to St. Louis, where they will play as the Eagles. But, after one year in the new city, the Senators folded. Even when the original team couldn’t keep their legacy alive, they still set the example for the Ottawa Senators that will appear in 1992.
Today, the only thing that is left of the Ottawa Hockey Club is the memory of eleven Stanley Cups and several remarkable players who are part of the Hall of Fame.
The Ottawa Senators (1992)
The new Ottawa Senators team made its debut in 1992, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The current owner of the organization is Eugene Melnyk, a successful businessman and philanthropist. Under his ownership, the Senators have one division title and a President’s trophy. If you are interested in learning about Melnyk and his impact on the team, read more here.
Now, let’s take a look at the history of the new Ottawa Senators, which actually start a few years before their debut.
Returning of the team
Three men are responsible for the return of the Ottawa Senators. Bruce Firestone, along with his colleagues Cyril Lender and Randy Sexton. Firestone worked in the real estate industry with his firm Terrace Investments. After discussing with Lender and Sexton, they made a bid together to bring the team back to Ottawa. However, they didn’t have enough assets to afford the expansion fee or support the team.
“Bring Back The Senators”
Because Firestone and his colleagues couldn’t pay for the Senators on their own, they came up with a strategy. The group already had its eye on farmland in Katana where they would build a new arena for the team, now they needed all the support they could get. Together they launched the “Bring Back The Senators” campaign in 1989 to attract the attention of the league and the interest of the public. The result was even better than what they expected, 11,000 season ticket pledges plus in 1990 the approval of a new franchise by the NHL.
Canadian Tire Centre
In 1992, the Terrace Corporation, the main owner of the team, welcomed Rod Bryden as their new CEO. A year later, Bryden would also turn into the chairman and governor of the Ottawa team. Then, under his direction, the Palladium Corporation began the construction of the Palladium arena (now known as the Canadian Tire Centre). In 1996 the new arena for the Senators was inaugurated. Today, the Canadian Tire Centre remains the house of the Ottawa Senators.
As happens with most expansion teams entering the league, the Ottawa senators struggled during their first four seasons in which they finished in the last place of the division. Then during the 1996-97 season with the coach Jacques Martin, the team reached the playoffs. During the next season, the success of the team continued when they captured their first division title, and this wouldn’t be their only one. In the next four years, the Senators will win consecutive division titles gaining respect for the franchise.
After all their achievements during the late 1990s, the Senators continued to score victories in the early 2000s. In the season 2002-03, the Senators won a President’s Trophy for being the team with the most points. Over the years, the Senators also obtained several star players through trades. All of that will be worth it in 2007 when the Ottawa Senators reach the Stanley Cup finals.
During the first half of the 2010s, the Senators made trades for some of its veteran players, such as Mike Fisher. Plus, there was an entire change to the coaching staff. In 2011-12 the franchise got to celebrate its 20th anniversary, from their return to the NHL. In the following years, the team will have many qualifications for the playoffs. However, in that time, they were unable to reach the second round of the postseason.
Finally, in the 2016-17 season, the Ottawa Senators made an incredible comeback by reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. But, this streak didn’t translate into the next season. Today, there is great confidence that the team will score more victories thanks to the outstanding prospect pool of talented players they can attract in the next few years. With the right picks, this NHL team will quickly rise to the top.