Ottawa Senators (senior hockey)

Ottawa Senators (senior hockey)
Ottawa Senators
City Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Founded 1934
Home arena Ottawa Auditorium
Colors black, red & white
Owner(s) Ottawa Auditorium, Tommy Gorman
Playoff championships Allan Cup: 1943, 1948 and 1949

The Ottawa Senators, also known as the Ottawa Commandos and Senior Senators, was an amateur, later semi-professional, senior-level men's ice hockey team based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In 1934, the Ottawa Auditorium, owners of the Ottawa Hockey Association decided it could no longer operate the Senators of the National Hockey League in Ottawa due to mounting financial losses. The Association split its hockey operations, relocating the NHL franchise to St. Louis, and continuing the Senators as an amateur club. The club operated from 1934 until 1955, winning the Allan Cup Canadian men's senior ice hockey championship in 1943, 1948 and 1949. During the war years from 1942 until 1944, it operated as the Ottawa Commandos.


Club history

In April 1934, after two seasons of losses, the directors of the Ottawa Auditorium, owners of the Ottawa Hockey Association, owners of the Ottawa NHL franchise, decided to relocate the NHL franchise to St. Louis. At the same time, it was decided to continue the Senators as a senior men's amateur team in the Montreal Group of the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association (QAHA).[1] Ottawa, being in a separate hockey grouping than Quebec, had to get the sanction of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to join the QAHA.[2] The application to join the QAHA was made by the manager of the Auditorium, Clare Brunton.[1][3] The 'Senior Senators' took over the 'barber-pole' striped sweaters with the 'O' logo, and played in the same home arena, the Auditorium, but in an amateur league. After 1935, the NHL franchise was bought out and only the senior team was left to continue.

For the players, the team functioned as both a stepping stone to the NHL, and a place for former NHL players to play after leaving the NHL. In the 1934-35 season, Eddie Finnigan, Frank's brother, played for both the senior Senators and the St. Louis Eagles and returned to the Senators after his NHL days were over. Former NHL Senators Ray Kinsella and Syd Howe would return to Ottawa and play for the Senior Senators. Howard Riopelle, after a few years with the Canadiens, joined the Senators in 1951 and would mix working for his local business with playing for the Senators.[4]

During the World War II years, the team operated as the Ottawa Commandos. During this time, NHL players who had enlisted in the Canadian armed forces, continued to play hockey in senior leagues. The Commandos had players such as goaltender Jim Henry of the New York Rangers, whose military posting was in Ottawa.

During its history the club's owners included James MacCaffrey, who was also its first manager, and who owned the football Ottawa Rough Riders and Tommy Gorman, who had had a partial ownership of the Senators previously from 1917 until 1925, and had gone on to be an NHL executive with the Chicago Black Hawks, New York Americans, Montreal Maroons and Montreal Canadiens. The team's first coach was Wes Richards and later coaches included Alex Smith and Georges Boucher.[5]

1934-41: QAHA Play

The Senators joined the 'Montreal Group' and played against six teams from the Montreal area: McGill, "Jr." Canadiens, Lafontaine, Royals, Verdun and Victorias. McGill and Victorias did not play on Sundays and played only half the schedule, points in their games counting for double.[6] The Senators made their QAHA debut on November 10, 1934 at home against the Victorias.[7] After the season, the play off format was for the first-place team to play the fourth-place team, and the second-place play the third. The other teams did not qualify.


Ottawa played an 18-game schedule from November 10, 1934 through February 10, 1935. Training camp began on October 17 with open tryouts at the Auditorium in conjunction with the Eagles' training camp.[8] The team would place third in the seven-team group, and played McGill in the semi-finals. The Senators would defeat McGill to advance to the finals against the Montreal Royals. Ottawa would lose the best-of-five 1–3-1. The club averaged 4,000 fans per game for ten season games, with crowds of 7,000 and 8,000 for play-off games.[9]


The Senators made a coaching change for 1935-36. Dr. Wes Patrick was replaced by Vic Wagner. The team made the playoffs but lost the best-of-five to Montreal 3-1.


Wes Patrick returned to coach the Senators. The Lafontaine team was replaced by Quebec Aces. Ray Kinsella returned from the pro ranks to play for the Senators. The Senators placed fifth and did not qualify for the playoffs.


Canadiens were replaced by Montreal Concordia Civics. Eddie Finnigan and Bill Touhey returned from the pros to play for the Senators. Ottawa placed third and met second-place Quebec in the playoffs. Quebec won the best-of-three series 3-2, all games won by the home team.


Ottawa placed second and took on Concordia in the semi-finals, defeating them 4-3, 2-2, 3-1 (2-1) to advance to the finals. In the finals against the Montreal Royals, Ottawa lost three straight ( 2-3, 1-2(OT), 1-5) to lose the series.


Former Ottawa Citizen sports editor Tommy Shields took over as coach this season. His first season as coach was unsuccessful as Ottawa finished out of the playoffs, placing fifth in the group. Cornwall Flyers were added to the group, which lost the Victorias and McGill clubs in the group, operating only six teams. The Victorias club had operated since 1881.


The team bounced back this season to finish first in the group with new coach Gene Chouinard. Canadiens returned to the group to increase it to a seven team league. Ottawa faced Cornwall Flyers in the semi-finals, and defeated them in a best-of-five 3-0-1 ( 5-0, 5-5, 1-0 and 3-2 ) to advance to the finals. The Senators faced the Royals again in the finals and lost their best-of-five 1-3 (6-2, 2-8, 5-11, 0-2).

1941-1954: Quebec Senior Hockey League

In 1941, the QAHA re-organized and put all of its senior teams in one league, the Quebec Senior Hockey League (QSHL), including the Senators.

In 1942–43, the club was known as the Commandos and it won the league championship and the Allan Cup.[10]

In 1943–44, former NHL Senator Bill Beveridge played for the club. The club could not defend its championship. The Commandos lost in the first round of the playoffs (6–3, 1–5, 3–13) to the Montreal Royals.[11]

In 1947, the club was bought by Tommy Gorman, who had returned to Ottawa and was promoting sports including boxing and horse racing in the capital.[10] The club won the league championship three straight times from 1947–1949, and the 1949 club won the Allan Cup championship, led by Larry Regan, who would later coach the Los Angeles Kings. In 1950, the league was classified as "major" and was no longer eligible for the Allan Cup.

In 1953, the league was renamed the Quebec Hockey League (QHL) and became professional. The QSHL league had been bought by the Montreal Canadiens, primarily to get the services of Jean Beliveau, who played for the Quebec Aces and was content to stay in Quebec.

The team ceased operations on December 20, 1954 in the middle of the 1954-55 QHL season. Owner Gorman blamed television for a drop in attendance, as televised games of the Toronto Maple Leafs had started in the previous season in Ottawa and Canadiens telecasts were available within 20 miles of Ottawa.[12][10]m


In 1956-57, the void in Ottawa hockey would be filled by the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, a junior farm team of the Montreal Canadiens. A senior version of the team would play in 1957-58 and 1958-59 in the OHA.

After the Quebec Hockey League folded in 1959, a new Eastern Professional Hockey League would be formed which included a new version of the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens. It lasted until 1963.

T. P. Gorman's son, Joe Gorman, would eventually participate in the 1989-1990 campaign to bring the NHL back to Ottawa, and gave his permission to use the Senators name.

Season statistics

Year League GP W L T PTS GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1934-35 QAHA 18 10 6 4 24 - - - 3rd Defeated McGill in semi-final
lost to Montreal Royals in final (1–3–1)
1935-36 QAHA 24 12 12 0 24 89 84 -- 4th Lost to Montreal Royals in semi-final
1936-37 QAHA 24 9 14 1 19 95 90 -- 5th --
1937-38 QAHA 22 9 9 4 22 81 79 -- 3rd Lost to Quebec Aces in semi-final
1938-39 QAHA 22 14 5 3 33 105 65 -- 2nd Defeated Concordia in semi-final;
lost to Royals in final
1939-40 QAHA 30 12 15 3 27 116 131 -- 5th --
1940-41 QAHA 36 24 7 5 53 162 86 -- 1st Defeated Cornwall in semi-final;
lost to Royals in final
1941-42 QSHL 40 23 14 3 49 154 111 -- 1st Defeated Canadiens in semi-final;
lost to Quebec Aces in final
1942-43 QSHL 34 14 15 5 33 142 130 -- 4th Allan Cup winners
1943-44 QSHL 18 6 10 2 14 71 90 -- 3rd Lost to Montreal Royals in semi-final
1944-45 QSHL --
1945-46 QSHL 40 24 14 2 50 211 158 - 2nd --
1946-47 QSHL 40 26 10 4 56 206 148 - 1st --
1947-48 QSHL 48 35 11 2 72 271 139 - 1st Allan Cup Winners
1948-49 QSHL 60 44 15 1 89 341 207 - 1st Allan Cup Winners
1949-50 QSHL 60 31 25 4 66 251 240 - 3rd --
1950-51 QSHL 60 29 23 8 66 214 189 - 3rd --
1951-52 QSHL 60 26 28 6 58 177 195 655 4th --
1952-53 QSHL 60 27 26 7 61 171 191 - 4th --
1953-54 QHL 72 34 32 6 74 223 212 - 3rd --
1954-55 QHL 27 10 17 0 20 63 90 - disbanded --
  • Sources: 1934-1941: Ottawa Citizen
  • 1942–43: Ottawa Citizen[13]
  • 1943–44: Ottawa Citizen[14]

See also


  • Finnigan, Joan (1992). Old Scores, New Goals: The Story of the Ottawa Senators. Quarry Press. ISBN 1550820419 


  1. ^ a b "Ottawa Team Is Expected to Join Quebec Amateur Hockey Circuit". The Ottawa Citizen: pp. 12. July 26, 1934 
  2. ^ "Senators are Accepted". Montreal Gazette: p. 7. August 2, 1934. 
  3. ^ "Auditorium Seeks Ten N.H.L. Games". The Ottawa Citizen: pp. 12. July 26, 1934 
  4. ^ Finnigan, pg. 167
  5. ^ Finnigan,pg. 157.
  6. ^ "62 Games In Quebec Senior Hockey Loop". The Evening Citizen. October 3, 1934 
  7. ^ "Three Group Tilts Set for Week-End". Montreal Gazette: p. 17. November 10, 1934.,1307602&dq=senators&hl=en. 
  8. ^ "Locals Start Tomorrow". The Ottawa Citizen: pp. 11. October 15, 1934 
  9. ^ "Senior Group Teams Played to 197,789 Paid Attendance". Montreal Gazette: p. 14. March 18, 1935. 
  10. ^ a b c "Passing of Senators Snaps Long Skein". Ottawa Citizen: p. 23. December 21, 1954. 
  11. ^ "Royals Capture Pair to Eliminate Ottawa Q.S.H.L Team". Ottawa Citizen: p. 10. March 13, 1944. 
  12. ^ "Gorman Removes Ottawa Senators from Quebec HL". The Globe and Mail: pp. 16. December 21, 1954 
  13. ^ "Quebec League Final Standings". Ottawa Citizen: p. 10. February 24, 1943. 
  14. ^ "Quebec League". Ottawa Citizen: p. 15. March 6, 1944. 

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