One of the first teams to suffer from the "small-market" malaise that now afflicts professional sports teams in Canada, the Senators began experiencing financial difficulties in the late 1920s as the NHL expanded into larger American cities.
Ottawa SenatorsThe first team to play professional hockey under the name Senators dominated the sport in the early 20th century. The Senators won the Stanley Cup in 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909 and 1911. The Senators were charter members of the original NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE in 1917. With key players such as Frank "King"CLANCY, Cy Denneny, Eddie Gerard, Frank Nighbor and Art Ross (for whom the Art Ross Trophy is named), the Senators won the Stanley Cup again in 1920, 1921, 1923 and 1927.
One of the first teams to suffer from the "small-market" malaise that now afflicts professional sports teams in Canada, the Senators began experiencing financial difficulties in the late 1920s as the NHL expanded into larger American cities. The most dramatic attempt to recover involved the sale of Clancy, Ottawa's most popular player, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1930 for 2 players and $35 000. The team suspended operations in the spring of 1931 and leased its players to the rest of the league. The Senators returned after a year of inactivity but in the fall of 1934 the team moved to St Louis, where it became the Eagles. The financial difficulties continued, however, and the team folded for good at the end of the 1934-35 season.
The present-day Ottawa Senators joined the National Hockey League in 1992 as an expansion team, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The decision caught many by surprise as Ottawa is a small market. Like most expansion teams, they struggled in their first few seasons. After finishing last in the 1992-93 season with only 10 wins, the Senators used their first overall pick in the 1993 entry draft to select highly touted Quebec junior star, Alexandre Daigle. A record-setting scorer for the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Daigle was a bust in the NHL and never lived up to his promise. After signing a rich contract he never scored more than 51 points for the Senators and was traded in 1998 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Under coach Jacques Martin, the Senators began the climb to respectability, making the playoffs for the first time during the 1996-97 season. This was the beginning of 11 consecutive seasons of post-season play for the club. Led by rising young stars such as Daniel Alfredsson, Alexei Yashin and Wade Redden, the Senators showed a lot of promise. Yashin was named team captain in 1998, becoming the first Russian to be a full-time captain in the NHL. Unfortunately, things turned sour for Yashin and the Senators when the star player demanded to renegotiate his contract. The club refused and Yashin ended up sitting out the entire 1999-2000 season. In 2001 he was traded to the New York Islanders.
The Senators continued to be one of the NHL's top clubs in the early 2000s but were stymied by the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, who defeated them four times in the playoffs between 2000 and 2004, despite the fact that Ottawa often had the better regular season record. These playoff match-ups contributed to the creation of a great rivalry in what came to be known as the "Battle of Ontario."
With an array of talent, including stars such as team captain Alfredsson (who is also the club's all-time leading scorer), Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Chris Phillips, the Senators made it to the STANLEY CUP finals during the 2006-07 season. Coached by Bryan Murray, the Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks, 4 games to 1. Heatley was acrimoniously traded in 2009 to the San Jose Sharks.
The Ottawa Senators are currently owned by businessman Eugene Melnyk, who bought the club out of bankruptcy in 2003. They play at Scotiabank Place, an 18 500-seat arena that was originally known as The Palladium when it opened in 1996.