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Relocated NHL Teams: The 1917-1934 Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators were a Canadian Ice Hockey team that played in the NHL between 1917 and 1934. The team was based at the Dey’s Arena from 1917 to 1923 before moving to the Ottawa arena from 1923 to 1934. The Senaters were one of the charter franchises of the NHL as it began in 1917 but the team had been in existence since 1893, playing in the AHA (Amateur Hockey Association) and were then known as the Ottawa Hockey Club. They first assumed the name Ottawa Senators in 1902, the year they became a professional club. In 1917, they abandoned the NHA (National Hockey Association) alongside three other teams due to a feud between the owners, to form the NFL.

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The Senators amassed an impressive haul of trophies during their stint in the NHL. They won a total of four Stanley Cups, 7 division championships and made the playoffs 11 times. During their first season, 1917/1918, the Senators finished with a 9-13 record but lifted themselves up to second the following season with a 12-6 record. They however lost the championship game in five games to the Montreal Canadiens. In 1919/20, they amended their failure from the previous season and won the NHL Championship in dominant fashion. They then beat the Seattle Metropolitans in five games in the Stanley Cup. During the course of the season, the Duke of Devonshire attended a game at the Dey’s Arena on a particularly warm afternoon. During those days the area between the stands and the playing surface was not partitioned and fans in the front row would often get wet as players’ blades splashed water and ice as they skated past. The Duke was not spared this treatment and even had to endure further indignation as his top hat was knocked off his head with a putting stick and landed among the fans a few feet away. He however took it with a pinch of humor and was even seen smiling.

The following season, they retained the NHL Championship and then vanquished the Vancouver Millionaires in the Stanley Cup to win it for the second season running. They missed out narrowly on the 1922 NFL Championship but they would make amends by winning the 1923 Stanley Cup after beating the Vancouver Maroons and Edmonton Eskimos in a new format tournament. They missed out narrowly on the 1922 NFL Championship but they would make amends by winning the 1923 Stanley Cup after beating the Vancouver Maroons and Edmonton Eskimos in a new format tournament. Their next Stanley Cup appearance came in 1927 where they beat the Boston Bruins in a championship with further tweaks. This would take them to four out of four in all their Stanley Cup appearances. After that, the team fell into decline, a trend that saw them make just two playoff appearances in seven years. They bowed out with a last place with a 13-29-6 record in the 1933/34 season, their last season in Ottawa.

Why were the Ottawa Senators relocated?

When the Senators’ success on the pitch finally took a turn for the worse towards the close of the 1920s, the only way was down in terms of finances. Game attendance took a beating, a stark contrast to the huge turnouts witnessed at the Dey’s during their earlier days. The fans turnout was further complicated by the fact that Ottawa was one of the smallest markets in the NFL, making it ill placed to compete with other sports franchises in terms of gate collections. Further the expansion of the NFL to the US meant greater travel costs and this further ate into their revenue streams. At the turn of the 1930s, the team started trading players in order to stay afloat, further messing their stuff on the ice. Rumors of a potential relocation began to surface, with Chicago, Philadelphia and Toronto being suggested. However these fell through owing to a raft of factors. Following the conclusion of the 1933/34 season, the team was sold to a group of businessmen from St. Louis. The new owners relocated the team to St. Louis and renamed it the St. Louis Eagles. However the team’s outlook in their new home was far from rosy and after struggling financially throughout the 1934/35 season, the team folded. It would be almost 60 years before the NHL returned to Ottawa. The current Ottawa Senators franchise was created in 1992.

Ottawa Senators Notable Players

Cy Denney 1917-1928
Alex Connell 1924-1931
Frank Nighbor C 1915-1930
Clint Benedict G 1912-1924
Eddie Gerrard LW 1913/1914, 1914-1922, 1922-1923
King Clancy D 1921-1930
George Boucher D 1915-1929

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