The Ottawa Civics was a professional ice hockey team based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, that played in the World Hockey Association. The team, which hastily adopted its identity in midseason when the Denver Spurs announced plans to sell the team and relocate to Ottawa, existed only for approximately two weeks, folding after only seven games.
|League||World Hockey Association|
|Home arena||Ottawa Civic Centre|
Move to Ottawa
The Denver Spurs began play in the Western Hockey League in 1968, and had been modestly successful in the minors before moving to the WHA in 1975. However, fans in Denver had been expecting an NHL team after Spurs owner Ivan Mullenix won a conditional NHL expansion franchise to begin play in 1976-77, only to see those plans fizzle out.
The Spurs were plagued by financial difficulties and poor attendance (less than 3,000 per game), widely attributed to the Denver fanbase rejecting the WHA as a minor league. However, they were also dogged by rumors that the NHL was planning to move either the Kansas City Scouts or the league-owned California Golden Seals to Denver; the Scouts would indeed eventually move to Denver as the Colorado Rockies in the 1976 offseason. Mullenix knew that he could not possibly compete with an NHL team. The team unofficially folded in December when Mullenix wanted out, and the league stepped in to broker a deal with an Ottawa group called the Founders Club. While the Spurs were on a road trip in January 1976, the team was quietly moved to Ottawa without even a press release and renamed the Civics. Allegedly, the players only learned of the move at their next road game that night in Cincinnati, when they stood on the ice in their Denver jerseys and suddenly heard O Canada being played. They lost that night and again the following night in Houston, then knocked off the Minnesota Fighting Saints (another squad headed for oblivion before the season was over) in Minnesota, 5-2, on January 4. It would be only victory in the Civics' short life.
The Civics played two home games at the Ottawa Civic Centre in front of sellout crowds–against the New England Whalers on January 7, and against Gordie Howe's Aeros on January 15. However, the Founders Club simply did not have the means nor the money to close the purchase, and Mullenix was not interested in operating a team in Ottawa. After the first home game, he gave the Founders Club an ultimatum–come up with $1.2 million within 10 days, or he would fold the team. When it was apparent that the money was not forthcoming, the Civics folded on January 17, 1976 after only playing 7 games as Ottawa.
Because of the rushed nature of the move, the Civics did not adopt a logo or colours, and continued to wear the Spurs' orange road uniforms for all 7 of their games including their two home games. Major league hockey would not return to Ottawa until the reborn Senators joined the NHL in the 1992-93 season. The last active Spurs/Civics player in the NHL was Ron Delorme, who retired after the 1984-85 season.
The Civics' 7-game, two-week existence made them easily the shortest-lived team in the WHA's seven-year history, and one of the shortest-lived teams to have ever played a major professional sport. Only the Tonawanda Kardex Lumbermen, whose one week in the National Football League in 1921 stands as the current record, have a shorter known time span of existence. Combined with the 34 games played as the Spurs, the 41 games was also easily the shortest-lived franchise in WHA history.
This listing includes 34 games played as the Denver Spurs. Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|1975–76||41||14||26||1||29||134||172||535||5th, Western||Folded mid-season|
- WHA Ottawa Civics, The Two Week Franchise - Detailed write up on the teams brief existence as well as rare photos from their two home games.