The Ottawa Senators (French: Sénateurs d'Ottawa) are a professional ice hockey team based in Ottawa, Ontario. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Senators play their home games at the 18,652-seat Canadian Tire Centre, which opened in 1996 as the Palladium.
|Home arena||Canadian Tire Centre|
|Colours||Red, black, gold, white|
|General manager||Pierre Dorion|
|Head coach||D. J. Smith|
|Minor league affiliates||Belleville Senators (AHL)|
Brampton Beast (ECHL)
|Conference championships||1 (2006–07)|
|Presidents' Trophy||1 (2002–03)|
|Division championships||4 (1998–99, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2005–06)|
Founded and established by Ottawa real estate developer Bruce Firestone, the team is the second NHL franchise to use the Ottawa Senators name. The original Ottawa Senators, founded in 1883, had a famed history, winning 11 Stanley Cups, playing in the NHL from 1917 until 1934. On December 6, 1990, after a two-year public campaign by Firestone, the NHL awarded a new franchise, which began play in the 1992–93 season. The current team owner is Eugene Melnyk, and in 2019, the franchise was valued by Forbes magazine at $445 million.
Ottawa had been home to the original Senators, a founding NHL franchise and 11-time Stanley Cup champions. After the NHL expanded to the United States in the late 1920s, the original Senators' eventual financial losses forced the franchise to move to St. Louis in 1934 operating as the Eagles while a Senators senior amateur team took over the Senators' place in Ottawa. The NHL team was unsuccessful in St. Louis and planned to return to Ottawa, but the NHL decided instead to suspend the franchise and transfer the players to other NHL teams.
Fifty-four years later, after the NHL announced plans to expand, Ottawa real estate developer Bruce Firestone decided along with colleagues Cyril Leeder and Randy Sexton that Ottawa was now able to support an NHL franchise, and the group proceeded to put a bid together. His firm, Terrace Investments, did not have the liquid assets to finance the expansion fee and the team, but the group conceived a strategy to leverage a land development. In 1989, after finding a suitable site on farmland just west of Ottawa in Kanata on which to construct a new arena, Terrace announced its intention to win a franchise and launched a successful "Bring Back the Senators" campaign to both woo the public and persuade the NHL that the city could support an NHL franchise. Public support was high and the group would secure over 11,000 season ticket pledges. On December 12, 1990, the NHL approved a new franchise for Firestone's group, to start play in the 1992–93 season.
Early years (1992–1996)
The new team hired former NHL player Mel Bridgman, who had no previous NHL management experience, as its first general manager in 1992. The team was initially interested in hiring former Jack Adams Award winner Brian Sutter as its first head coach, but Sutter came with a high price tag and was reluctant to be a part of an expansion team. When Sutter was eventually signed to coach the Boston Bruins, Ottawa signed Rick Bowness, the man Sutter replaced in Boston. The new Senators were placed in the Adams Division of the Wales Conference, and played their first game on October 8, 1992, in the Ottawa Civic Centre against the Montreal Canadiens with lots of pre-game spectacle. The Senators defeated the Canadiens 5–3 in one of the few highlights that season. Following the initial excitement of the opening night victory, the club floundered badly and eventually tied the San Jose Sharks for the worst record in the league, winning only 10 games with 70 losses and four ties for 24 points, three points better than the NHL record for futility. The Senators had aimed low and considered the 1992–93 season a small success, as Firestone had set a goal for the season of not setting a new NHL record for fewest points in a season. The long-term plan was to finish low in the standings for its first few years in order to secure high draft picks and eventually contend for the Stanley Cup.
Bridgman was fired after one season and Team President Randy Sexton took over the general manager duties. Firestone himself soon left the team and Rod Bryden emerged as the new owner. The strategy of aiming low and securing a high draft position did not change. The Senators finished last overall for the next three seasons. For the 1993–94 season, the team now played in the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division. Although 1993 first overall draft choice Alexandre Daigle wound up being one of the greatest draft busts in NHL history, they chose Radek Bonk in 1994, Bryan Berard (traded for Wade Redden) in 1995, Chris Phillips in 1996 and Marian Hossa in 1997, all of whom would become solid NHL players and formed a strong core of players in years to come. Alexei Yashin, the team's first-ever draft selection from 1992, emerged as one of the NHL's brightest young stars. The team traded many of their better veteran players of the era, including 1992–93 leading scorer Norm Maciver and fan favourites Mike Peluso and Bob Kudelski in an effort to stockpile prospects and draft picks.
As the 1995–96 season began, star centre Alexei Yashin refused to honour his contract and did not play. In December, after three straight last-place finishes and a team which was ridiculed throughout the league, fans began to grow restless waiting for the team's long-term plan to yield results, and arena attendance began to decline. Rick Bowness was fired in late 1995 and was replaced by the Prince Edward Island Senators' head coach Dave Allison. Allison would fare no better than his predecessor, and the team would stumble to a 2–22–3 record under him. Sexton himself was fired and replaced by Pierre Gauthier, the former assistant GM of Anaheim. Before the end of January 1996, Gauthier had resolved the team's most pressing issues by settling star player Alexei Yashin's contract dispute, and hiring the highly regarded Jacques Martin as head coach. While Ottawa finished last overall once again, the 1995–96 season ended with renewed optimism, due in part to the upgraded management and coaching, and also to the emergence of an unheralded rookie from Sweden named Daniel Alfredsson, who would win the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 1996.
Jacques Martin era (1996–2004)
Martin would impose a "strong defence first" philosophy that led to the team qualifying for the playoffs every season that he coached, but he was criticized for the team's lack of success in the playoffs, notably losing four straight series against the provincial rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin outlasted several general managers and a change in ownership.
In 1996–97, his first season, the club qualified for the playoffs in the last game of the season, and nearly defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the first round. In 1997–98, the club finished with their first winning record and upset the heavily favoured New Jersey Devils to win their first playoff series. In 1998–99, the Senators jumped from fourteenth overall in the previous season to third, with 103 points—the first 100-point season in club history, only to be swept in the first round. In 1999–2000 despite the holdout of team captain Alexei Yashin, Martin guided the team to the playoffs, only to lose to the Maple Leafs in the first Battle of Ontario series. Yashin returned for 2000–01 and the team improved to win their division and place second in the Eastern Conference. Yashin played poorly in another first-round playoff loss and on the day of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he was traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the second overall selection in the draft, which Ottawa used to select centre Jason Spezza.
The 2001–02 Senators regular season points total dropped, but in the playoffs, they upset the Philadelphia Flyers for the franchise's second playoff series win. Yet the Sens would lose in game seven of the second round of the playoffs. Despite speculation that Martin would be fired, it was GM Marshall Johnston who left, retiring from the team, replaced by John Muckler, the Senators' first with previous GM experience.
In 2002–03 off-ice problems dominated the headlines, as the Senators filed for bankruptcy in mid-season, but continued play after getting emergency financing. Despite the off-ice problems, Ottawa had an outstanding season, placing first overall in the NHL to win the Presidents' Trophy. In the playoffs, they came within one game of making it into the finals. Prior to the 2003–04 season, pharmaceutical billionaire Eugene Melnyk would purchase the club to bring financial stability. Martin would guide the team to another good regular season but again would lose in the first round of the playoffs, leading to Martin's dismissal as management felt that a new coach was required for playoff success.
Bryan Murray era (2004–2016)
After the playoff loss, owner Melnyk promised that changes were coming and they came quickly. In June 2004, Anaheim Ducks GM Bryan Murray of nearby Shawville, became the head coach. That summer, the team also made substantial personnel changes, trading long-time players Patrick Lalime and Radek Bonk, and signing free agent goaltender Dominik Hasek. The team would not be able to show its new line-up for a year, as the 2004–05 NHL lock-out intervened and most players played in Europe or in the minors. In a final change, just before the 2005–06 season, the team traded long-time player Marian Hossa for Dany Heatley.
The media predicted the Senators to be Stanley Cup contenders in 2005–06, as they had a strong core of players returning, played in an up-tempo style fitting the new rule changes and Hasek was expected to provide top-notch goaltending. The team rushed out of the gate, winning 19 of the first 22 games, in the end winning 52 games and 113 points, placing first in the conference, and second overall. The newly formed 'CASH' line of Alfredsson, Spezza and newly acquired Dany Heatley established itself as one of the league's top offensive lines. Hasek played well until he was injured during the 2006 Winter Olympics, forcing the team to enter the playoffs with rookie netminder Ray Emery as their starter. Without Hasek, the club bowed out in a second-round loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
In 2006–07, the Senators reached the Stanley Cup Finals after qualifying for the playoffs in nine consecutive seasons. The Senators had a high turn-over of personnel and the disappointment of 2006 to overcome and started the season poorly. Trade rumours swirled around Daniel Alfredsson for most of the last months of 2006. The team lifted itself out of last place in the division to nearly catch the Buffalo Sabres by season's end, placing fourth in the Eastern Conference. The team finished with 105 points, their fourth straight 100-point season and sixth in the last eight. In the playoffs, Ottawa continued its good play. Led by the 'CASH' line, goaltender Ray Emery, and the strong defence of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, the club defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, the second-ranked New Jersey Devils and the top-ranked Buffalo Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 2006–07 Senators thus became the first Ottawa team to be in the Stanley Cup final since 1927 and the city was swept up in the excitement. Businesses along all of the main streets posted large hand-drawn "Go Sens Go" signs, residents put up large displays in front of their homes or decorated their cars. A large Ottawa Senators flag was draped on the City Hall, along with a large video screen showing the games. A six-storey likeness of Daniel Alfredsson was hung on the Corel building. Rallies were held outside of City Hall, car rallies of decorated cars paraded through town and a section of downtown, dubbed the "Sens Mile", was closed off to traffic during and after games for fans to congregate.
In the Final, the Senators now faced the Anaheim Ducks, considered a favourite since the start of the season, a team the Senators had last played in 2006, and a team known for its strong defence. The Ducks won the first two games in Anaheim 3–2 and 1–0. Returning home, the Senators won game three 5–3, but lost game four 3–2. The Ducks won game five 6–2 in Anaheim to clinch the series. The Ducks had played outstanding defence, shutting down the 'CASH' line, forcing Murray to split up the line. The Ducks scored timely goals and Ducks' goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere out-played Emery.
In the off-season after the Stanley Cup Final, Bryan Murray's contract was expiring, while GM John Muckler had one season remaining, at which he was expected to retire. Murray, who had previously been at GM for other NHL clubs, was expected to take over the GM position, although no public timetable was given. Owner Melnyk decided to offer Muckler another position in the organization and give the GM position to Murray. Muckler declined the offer and was relieved from his position. Melnyk publicly justified the move, saying that he expected to lose Murray if his contract ran out. Murray then elevated John Paddock, the assistant coach, to head coach of the Senators. Under Paddock, the team came out to a record start to the 2007–08 season. However, team play declined to a .500 level and the team looked to be falling out of the playoffs. Paddock was fired by Murray, who took over coaching on an interim basis. The club managed to qualify for the playoffs by a tie-breaker but was swept in the first round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In June, the club bought-out goaltender Ray Emery, who had become notorious for off-ice events in Ottawa and lateness to several team practices.
For 2008–09, Murray hired Craig Hartsburg to coach the Senators. Under Hartsburg's style, the Senators struggled and played under .500. Uneven goaltending with Martin Gerber and Alex Auld meant the team played cautiously to protect the goaltender. Murray's patience ran out in February 2009 with the team well out of playoff contention and Hartsburg was fired, although he had two years left on his contract, and the team also had Paddock under contract. Cory Clouston was elevated from the Binghamton coaching position. The team played above .500 under Clouston and rookie goaltender Brian Elliott, who had been promoted from Binghamton. Gerber was waived from the team at the trading deadline and the team traded for goaltender Pascal Leclaire, although he would not play due to injury. The team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons. Auld would be traded in the off-season to make room. Clouston's coaching had caused a rift with top player Dany Heatley (although unspecified "personal issues" were also noted by Heatley) and after Clouston was given a contract to continue coaching, Heatley made a trade demand and was traded just before the start of the 2009–10 season.
In 2009–10, the Senators were a .500 team, until going on a team-record 11-game winning streak in January. The streak propelled the team to the top of the Northeast Division standings and a top-three placing for the playoffs. The team was unable to hold off the Sabres for the division lead but qualified for the playoffs in the fifth position. For the third season in four, the Senators played off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. A highlight for the Senators was winning a triple-overtime fifth game in Pittsburgh, but the team was unable to win a playoff game on home ice, losing the series in six games.
The Senators had a much poorer than expected 2010–11 campaign, resulting in constant rumours of a shakeup right through until December. The rumours were heightened in January after the team went on a lengthy losing streak. January was a dismal month for the Senators, winning only one game all month. Media speculated on the imminent firing of Clouston, Murray or both. Owner Melynk cleared the air in an article in the edition of January 22, 2011, of the Ottawa Sun. Melnyk stated that he would not fire either Clouston or Murray, but that he had given up on this season and was in the process of developing a plan for the future. On Monday, January 24, The Globe and Mail reported that the plan included hiring a new general manager before the June entry draft and that Murray would be retained as an advisor to the team. A decision on whether to retain Clouston would be made by the new general manager. The article by Roy MacGregor, a long-time reporter of the Ottawa Senators, stated that former assistant coach Pierre McGuire had already been interviewed. Murray, in a press conference that day, stated that he wished to stay on as the team's general manager. He also stated that Melnyk was allowing him to continue as the general manager without restraint. Murray said that the players were now to be judged by their play until the February 28 trade deadline. Murray would attempt to move "a couple, at least" of the players for draft picks or prospects at that time if the Senators remained out of playoff contention. At the time of Murray's comments the team was eight games under .500 and 14 points out of a playoff position after 49 games.
Murray started with the trading of Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2011 draft. Fisher already had a home in Nashville with new wife Carrie Underwood. The trading of Fisher, a fan favourite in Ottawa, lead to a small anti-Underwood backlash in the city with the banning of her songs from the playlists of some local radio stations. Murray next traded Chris Kelly, another veteran, to the Boston Bruins for a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. A few days later, pending unrestricted free agent Jarkko Ruutu was sent to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2011. A swap of goaltenders was made with the Colorado Avalanche which brought Craig Anderson to Ottawa in exchange for Brian Elliott. Both goalies were having sub-par seasons prior to the trade. Under-achieving forward Alex Kovalev was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a seventh-round draft pick. On trade deadline day, Ottawa picked up goaltender Curtis McElhinney on waivers and traded Chris Campoli with a seventh-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second round pick and Ryan Potulny. Goaltender Anderson played very well down the stretch for Ottawa, and the team quickly signed the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent to a four-year contract. After media speculation on the future of Murray within the organization, Murray was re-signed as general manager on April 8 to a three-year extension. On April 9, Head Coach Cory Clouston and assistants Greg Carvel and Brad Lauer were dismissed from their positions. Murray said that the decision was made based on the fact that the team entered the season believing it was a contender, but finished with a 32–40–10 record. Former Detroit Red Wings' assistant coach Paul MacLean was hired as Clouston's replacement on June 14, 2011.
As the 2011–12 season began, many hockey writers and commentators were convinced that the Senators would finish at or near the bottom of the NHL standings. In the midst of rebuilding, the Ottawa line-up contained many rookies and inexperienced players. The team struggled out of the gate, losing five of their first six games before a reversal of fortunes saw them win six games in a row. In December 2011, the team acquired forward Kyle Turris from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for David Rundblad and a draft pick. The team improved its play afterwards and moved into a playoff position before the All-Star Game. For the first time in Senators' history, the All-Star Game was held in Ottawa, and it was considered a great success. Five Senators were voted in or named to the event, including Daniel Alfredsson, who was named the captain of one team. The team continued its playoff push after the break. After starting goalie Craig Anderson injured his hand in a kitchen accident at home, the Senators called up Robin Lehner from Binghamton and acquired highly regarded goaltender Ben Bishop from the St. Louis Blues. While Anderson recovered, the team continued its solid play. On April 1, 2012, the Senators defeated the New York Islanders 5–1, officially ensuring a playoff position. The team finished as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, drawing a first-round playoff matchup against the Conference champion New York Rangers. Ultimately, Ottawa lost the series in seven games.
The next season, Ottawa would be challenged to repeat the success they had in 2011–12, due to long-term injuries to key players such as Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson. Despite these injuries, the Senators would finish seventh in the Eastern Conference and head coach Paul MacLean would go on to win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year. Ottawa would play the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, eventually winning in five games, blowing out Montreal 6–1 in games three and five. The Senators would advance to play the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, this time losing in five games. During the off-season, the Senators traded veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar to the Dallas Stars for a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft. July 5, 2013, would be a day of mixed emotions for the city and fans, as long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, leaving Ottawa after 17 seasons with the Senators and 14 as captain. The signing shocked numerous fans across the city and many within the Senators organization. The day finished optimistically, however, as Murray acquired star forward Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forwards Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in the 2014 draft. The hope was that Ryan would be the guy to play on the top line with Jason Spezza after Alfredsson's departure. Murray would also sign free agent forward Clarke MacArthur to a two-year contract that same day and bring back former defenceman Joe Corvo to a one-year contract three days later on July 8, 2013.
For the 2013–14 NHL season, the league realigned and Ottawa was assigned to the new Atlantic Division along with the rest of the old Northeast Division, with the additions of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, formerly of the Western Conference. The re-alignment brought increased competition to qualify for the playoffs, as there were now 16 teams in the Eastern Conference fighting for eight playoff spots. The season began with a changing of leadership, as on September 14, 2013, the Ottawa Senators named Jason Spezza their eighth captain in franchise history. While new addition Clarke MacArthur had a career year, Ryan and Spezza struggled to find chemistry, and Ryan was moved to a line with MacArthur and Kyle Turris, where he fared much better. Bobby Ryan also ran into injury problems during the season, and while there were times where Joe Corvo played solidly, he eventually lost his place in the line-up. The club struggled on defence, as shots and goals against numbers increased from the previous season. The club was a sub .500 team much of the season, or only a few games above and never was in a playoff position all season. At the trade deadline, Murray traded for flashy right winger Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers, quickly finding success on a line with Spezza and Michalek. The club, however, was eliminated from playoff contention in the last week of the season. At the end of the season, the club failed to come to terms on a new contract with Hemsky and captain Jason Spezza requested a trade out of Ottawa. At the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, a potential trade to the Nashville Predators was negotiated by Murray but rejected by Spezza, as the Predators were one of the teams on his limited no-trade list. A deal with the Dallas Stars was eventually reached, and Spezza was sent, along with Ludwig Karlsson, in exchange for Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill and a 2015 second-round pick. During the off-season, the club signed free agent forward David Legwand to a two-year, $6 million contract.
At the beginning of the 2014–15 season, defenceman Erik Karlsson was named the franchise's ninth captain, with the club also re-signing Bobby Ryan to a seven-year extension. After firing head coach Paul MacLean after 27 games with an 11–11–5 record and replacing him with Dave Cameron, the Senators would win 32 of their last 55 games. Goaltender Andrew Hammond would compile a record of 20–1–2, goals against average of 1.79, and a save percentage of .941 to get the team back into playoff position. The Senators later became the first team in modern NHL history to overcome a 14-point deficit at any juncture of the season to qualify for the playoffs. However, the Senators lost to the Canadiens in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
During the 2014–15 season, it was announced that Murray had cancer. Taking regular treatment, Murray chose to stay on as GM through the 2015–16 season. Despite posting the best record of any Canadian team in the league, the Senators failed to make the playoffs in what was considered a disappointing season (all seven Canadian teams missed the playoffs). Murray made one 'blockbuster' 11-player trade that brought Toronto Maple Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf to the Senators before the trade deadline. The Senators outside of a playoff position at the time of the deal, but could not put together another run and finished with 85 points for fifth in the division.
Pierre Dorion era (2016–present)
On April 10, 2016, the day after the final game of the 2015–16 season, Murray announced his resignation as general manager and that he would continue in an advisory role with the club. Assistant general manager Pierre Dorion was promoted to the general manager position. On April 12, 2016, the Senators fired head coach Dave Cameron. On May 8, 2016, the Senators hired former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher as their new head coach. On the following day, Marc Crawford was announced as associate coach. On June 13, 2016, the Senators hired Daniel Alfredsson as the senior advisor of hockey operations. In June 2016, the Senators hired Rob Cookson as an assistant coach, who had worked with both Boucher and Crawford in Switzerland, and Pierre Groulx as a goaltending coach.
The Senators finished second in the Atlantic Division during the 2016–17 season and faced the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, winning that series in six games. In the second round, they defeated the New York Rangers in six games. During the second game of that series, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored four goals, including the game-winning goal in double overtime. The Senators would come within one game of the Stanley Cup Final, but lost in double overtime of the seventh game of their Eastern Conference Final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Following their appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season, the Senators lost defencemen Marc Methot to the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. On November 5, 2017, the Senators conducted a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Avalanche, bringing in star-forward Matt Duchene from the Avalanche in exchange for Kyle Turris, Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, a conditional 1st-round pick in 2018 or 2019 and a 3rd-round pick in 2019. Following the trade, however, the Senators season began to fall apart. Forward Derick Brassard and defenceman Dion Phaneuf were dealt at the trade deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The Senators finished the year second-to-last in the league with a 28–43–11 record and 67 points, their lowest overall point total since 1995–96.
In the 2018 off-season, the Senators traded forward Mike Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks, who was dealt later that day by the Sharks to the Florida Panthers. The Senators were given the right to the fourth-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Having to give either that pick or the 2019 1st-round pick to the Avalanche, the Senators elected to keep the pick and select forward Brady Tkachuk fourth-overall. Just before the regular season started, the Senators traded their captain Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks for players and draft picks. Unable to re-sign star forwards Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel, the Senators traded all three forwards prior to the trade deadline. Duchene and Dzingel were traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Stone was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. The team finished last in the NHL, making it the first time since 1995–96 that the Senators missed back to back playoff appearances.
Ottawa Civic Centre
The new Senators' first home arena was the Ottawa Civic Centre, located on Bank Street in Ottawa, where they played from the 1992–93 season to January of the 1995–96 season; their last game was New Year's Eve, 1995, versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. They played their first home game on October 8, 1992 against the Montreal Canadiens with lots of pre-game spectacle. The Senators would defeat the Canadiens 5–3 in one of few highlights that season. Following the initial excitement of the opening night victory, the club floundered badly and would eventually tie with the San Jose Sharks for the worst record in the league, finishing with only 10 wins, 70 losses and 4 ties for 24 points, three points better than the NHL record for futility.
Canadian Tire Centre
As part of its bid to land an NHL franchise for Ottawa, Terrace Corporation unveiled the original proposal for the arena development at a press conference in September 1989. The proposal included a hotel and 20,500 seat arena, named The Palladium on 100 acres (0.40 km2), surrounded by a 500-acre (2.0 km2) mini-city, named "West Terrace." The site itself, 600 acres (2.4 km2) of farmland, on the western border of Kanata, had been acquired in May 1989 by Terrace. Rezoning approval was granted by the Board on August 28, 1991, with conditions. The conditions imposed by the board included a scaling down of the arena to 18,500 seats, a moratorium on development outside the initial 100-acre (0.40 km2) arena site, and that the cost of the highway interchange with highway 417 be paid by Terrace. A two-year period was used seeking financing for the site and interchange by Terrace Corporation. The corporation received a $6 million grant from the federal government but needed to borrow to pay for the rest of the costs of construction. A ground-breaking ceremony was held in June 1992 but actual construction did not start until July 7, 1994. Actual construction took 18 months, finishing in January 1996.
The newly built Palladium opened on January 15, 1996, with a concert by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. The Senators played their first game in their new arena two days later, falling 3–0 to the Montreal Canadiens. On February 17, 1996, the name 'Palladium' was changed to the 'Corel Centre' when Corel Corporation, an Ottawa software company, signed a 10-year deal for the naming rights.
When mortgage holder Covanta Energy (the former Ogden Entertainment) went into receivership in 2001, Terrace was expected to pay off the entire debt. The ownership was not able to refinance the arena, eventually leading Terrace itself to declare bankruptcy in 2003. However, on August 26, 2003, billionaire businessman Eugene Melnyk finalized the purchase of the Senators and the arena. The arena and club became solely owned by Melnyk through a new company, Capital Sports Properties.
In 2004, the ownership applied to expand its seating and the City of Ottawa amended its by-laws for the venue, increasing its seating capacity in 2005 to 19,153 and total attendance capacity to 20,500 including standing room.
On January 19, 2006, the arena became known as 'Scotiabank Place' after reaching a new 15-year naming agreement with Canadian bank Scotiabank on January 11, 2006. Scotiabank had been an advertising partner with the club for several years and took over the naming after Corel declined to renew its naming agreement with the Senators, but continued as an advertising sponsor. On June 18, 2013, the Ottawa Senators announced a new marketing agreement with Canadian Tire, and as a result, the arena was renamed the Canadian Tire Centre on July 1, 2013.
Downtown arena proposal
In 2015, the National Capital Commission (NCC) put out a request for proposals to redevelop the LeBreton Flats area in downtown Ottawa, a longtime vacant former industrial area. In 2016 the NCC settled on the proposal presented by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and the RendezVous LeBreton Group partnership with Trinity Developments. The proposal included housing units, park space, a recreation facility, a library and a new arena for the Ottawa Senators.
The plan to build a new arena downtown came apart in late 2018 after it was revealed that the Senators were suing Trinity for CA$700 million in damages. Trinity was developing a site adjacent to the LeBreton Flats site and the Senators felt this was inappropriate competition. Trinity responded with a CA$1 billion lawsuit, accusing the Senators of being unwilling to contribute any money to the project. The NCC announced the cancellation of the partnership's bid to develop the site but gave the sides an extension when the two parties agreed to mediation. On February 27, 2019, it was announced that mediation between the parties had failed to come to an agreement and that the NCC would explore other options for the site's redevelopment.
The team's website and social media outlets are in both languages, and arena announcements and press releases are given in both languages.
The Senators organization operates primarily in English and provides French-language services reflecting that it is one of two NHL teams (the other being the Canadiens) with a large francophone fan base.
Logo and jersey design
The team colours are red, black and white, with added trim of gold. The team's away jersey is mostly white with red and black trim, while the home jersey is red, with white and black trim. The club logo is officially the head of a Roman general, a member of the Senate of the Roman Republic, projecting from a gold circle.
From 1992 to 1995, the Senators' primary road jerseys were black with red stripes. The numbers were red for the first season, but switched to white afterwards. White stripes were added to the uniform in 1995. The white uniforms, which were worn on home games until 2003 and on road games until 2007, featured black sleeves and tail stripes with red accents, and black lettering.
In 1997, the Senators unveiled a red third jersey, featuring the first iteration of the "forward-facing" centurion logo. The jersey became the team's primary dark jersey starting in 1999. From 2000 to 2007, the Senators also wore a black alternate jersey with gold, red and white accents.
The current jersey design was unveiled on August 22, 2007, in conjunction with the league-wide adoption of the Rbk EDGE jerseys by Reebok for the 2007–08 season. The jersey incorporates the original Senators' 'O' logo as a shoulder patch. At the same time, the team updated its logos, and switched their usage. The primary logo, which according to team owner Eugene Melnyk, "represents strength and determination" is an update of the old secondary logo. The old primary logo has become the team's secondary logo and only appears on Senators' merchandise.
Prior to the 2008–09 season, the Senators unveiled a new black third jersey, featuring the shortened "SENS" moniker in front. The centurion logo adorn the shoulders and the striping was inspired from the team's original black jerseys.
In 2011, the Senators introduced a throwback-inspired third jersey design. Mostly black, the jersey incorporated horizontal striping intended to be reminiscent of the original Senators' 'barber-pole' designs. Shield-type patches were added to the shoulders. The design of the shield-type patches was intended to be similar to the shield patches that the original Senators added to their jerseys after each Stanley Cup championship win. The patches spell the team name, one in English, and one in French. The design was a collaborative effort between the Senators and a fan in Gatineau, Quebec who had been circulating a version of it on the internet since 2009.
The black third jerseys served as the basis of the Senators' 2014 Heritage Classic jerseys, which used cream as the base colour.
In 2017, the Senators' jerseys received a slight makeover when Adidas replaced Reebok as uniform provider. The lettering treatment was changed to match those of their recent third jerseys, which were retired after the 2016–17 season. Prior to the 2018–19 season, the Senators brought back the red jerseys worn during the NHL 100 Classic as a third jersey. The design featured a silver "O" in front with black trim amid horizontal black, silver and white stripes.
At many home games the fans are entertained both outside and inside Canadian Tire Centre with myriad entertainers – live music, rock bands, giveaways and promotions. The live music includes the traditional Scottish music of the 'Sons of Scotland Pipe Band' of Ottawa along with highland dancers. Before and during games, entertainment is provided by Spartacat, the official mascot of the Senators, an anthropomorphic lion. He made his debut on the Senators' opening night: October 8, 1992. From 1994 until 2016, the national anthems were sung by former Ontario Provincial Police Constable Lyndon Slewidge. At home games, O Canada is traditionally sung in both English and French with the first half of the first stanza and chorus sung in English and the second half of the first stanza sung in French. The Senators have their own theme song titled Ottawa Senators Theme Song which is played as the team comes on the ice and is also used in Sens TV web videos. It was composed locally in Ottawa. The team's goal horn is an Airchime M3H horn from a retired VIA Rail train. The team initially used it in the Civic Centre.
Attendance and revenues
On April 18, 2008, the club announced its final attendance figures for 2007–08. The club had 40 sell-outs out of 41 home dates, a total attendance of 812,665 during the regular season, placing the club third in attendance in the NHL. The number of sell-outs and the total attendance were both club records. The previous attendance records were set during the 2005–06 with a season total of 798,453 and 33 sell-outs. In 2006–07 regular season attendance was 794,271, with 31 sell-outs out of 41 home dates or an average attendance of 19,372. In the 2007 playoffs, the Senators played 9 games with 9 sell-outs and an attendance of 181,272 for an average of 20,141, the highest in team history. Until recent seasons, the club was regularly represented in the top half in attendance in the NHL. In 2018–19, the Senators average attendance was 14,553, 27th in the league.
On November 29, 2011, a Forbes magazine report valued the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club at $201 million, (17th highest in NHL). The valuation was based on $27 million for the sport, $70 million for the arena, $80 million for the market and $25 million for the brand. For 2010–11, the club had an operating income of $2.8 million on revenues of $100 million. The gate receipts for the 2010–11 season were $46 million and player expenses were $57 million. The operating income followed two years where the team posted a loss. Forbes estimates that the organization has a debt/value ratio of 65%, including arena debt. Eugene Melnyk bought the team for $92 million in 2003. A November 2014 report by Forbes valued the Senators at $400 million, 16th highest in the NHL. A 2019 report by Forbes valued the Senators at $445 million.
The fans of the Senators are known as the Sens Army. Like most hockey fanatics, they are known to dress up for games; some in Roman legionary clothing. For the 2006–2007 playoff run, more fans than ever before would wear red, and fan activities included 'Red Rallies' of decorated cars, fan rallies at Ottawa City Hall Plaza and the 'Sens Mile' along Elgin Street where fans would congregate.
Much like the Red Mile in Calgary during the Flames' 2004 cup run and the Copper Kilometer in Edmonton during the Oilers' 2006 cup run, Ottawa Senators fans took to the streets to celebrate their team's success during the 2006–07 playoffs. The idea to have a 'Sens Mile' on the downtown Elgin Street, a street with numerous restaurants and pubs, began as a grassroots campaign on Facebook by Ottawa residents before game four of the Ottawa-Buffalo Eastern Conference Final series. After the game five win, Ottawa residents closed the street to traffic for a spontaneous celebration. The City of Ottawa then closed Elgin Street for each game of the Final.
Ottawa Senators games are broadcast locally in both the English and French languages. As of the 2014–15 season, regional television rights to the Senators' regular season games not broadcast nationally by Sportsnet, TVA Sports, or Hockey Night in Canada are owned by Bell Media under a 12-year contract, with games airing in English on TSN5, and in French on RDS. Regional broadcasts are available within the team's designated region (shared with the Montreal Canadiens), which includes the Ottawa River valley, Eastern Ontario (portions are shared with the Toronto Maple Leafs), along with Quebec, the Maritime provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador.
On radio, all home and away games are broadcast on a five-station network stretching across Eastern Ontario, and including one American station, WQTK in Ogdensburg, New York. The flagship radio station is CFGO "TSN Radio 1200" in Ottawa. Radio broadcasts on CFGO began in 1997–98; the contract has since been extended through the 2025–2026 as part of Bell Media's rights deal with the team. The Senators are broadcast on radio in French through Intersport Production and CJFO Unique FM in Ottawa. Nicolas St. Pierre provides play-by-play, with Alain Sanscartier as colour commentator.
Sportsnet East held English regional rights to the Sens prior to the 2014–15 season. In April 2014, Dean Brown, who had called play-by-play for Senators games the team's inception, stated that it was "extremely unlikely" that he would move to TSN and continue his role. He noted that the network already had four commentators among its personalities – including Gord Miller, Chris Cuthbert, Rod Black, and Paul Romanuk (who was, however, picked up by Rogers for its national NHL coverage in June 2014), who were likely candidates to serve as the new voices of the Senators. Brown ultimately moved to the Senators' radio broadcasts alongside Gord Wilson.
During the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons, several games were only available in video on pay-per-view or at local movie theatres in the Ottawa area. The "Sens TV" service was suspended indefinitely as of September 24, 2008. In 2010, Sportsnet launched a secondary channel for selected Senators games as part of its Sportsnet One service. Selected broadcasts of Senators games in the French language were broadcast by RDS and TVA Sports. On the RDS network, Félix Séguin and former Senators goaltender Patrick Lalime were the announcers from the 2011–12 season to the 2013–14 season, and Michel Y. Lacroix and Norman Flynn starting in the 2014–15 season. The TVA Sports broadcast team consisted of Michel Langevin, Yvon Pedneault and Enrico Ciccone.
Players and personnel
Statistics are accurate through the hiring of D.J. Smith.
Source: Ottawa Senators 2009–10 Media Guide, p. 206.
Hall of Famers
|No.||Player||Position||Career||Date of retirement|
|4||Chris Phillips||D||1997–2016||February 18, 2020|
|October 8, 19921|
|11||Daniel Alfredsson||RW||1995–2013||December 29, 2016|
- 1 Finnigan was honoured for his play from 1923 through 1934 for the original Ottawa Senators (as a right wing, 1923–1931 and 1932–1934). He was the last surviving Senator from the Stanley Cup winners of 1927 and participated in the 'Bring Back the Senators' campaign.
- The NHL retired Wayne Gretzky's No. 99 for all its member teams at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.
Ring of Honour
- Bryan Murray – Senators' head coach (2005–2008) and general manager (2007–2016).
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Senators. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Ottawa Senators seasons
Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|2014–15||82||43||26||13||99||238||215||4th, Atlantic||Lost in First Round, 2–4 (Canadiens)|
|2015–16||82||38||35||9||85||236||247||5th, Atlantic||Did not qualify|
|2016–17||82||44||28||10||98||212||214||2nd, Atlantic||Lost in Conference Finals, 3–4 (Penguins)|
|2017–18||82||28||43||11||67||221||291||7th, Atlantic||Did not qualify|
|2018–19||82||29||47||6||64||242||302||8th, Atlantic||Did not qualify|
Team scoring leaders
These are the top-ten regular season point-scorers in franchise history after the 2018–19 season:
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game average;
NHL awards and trophies
|Franchise record||Name of player||Statistic||Year(s)|
|Most goals in a season||Dany Heatley||50||2005–06|
|Most goals in a season, defenceman||Erik Karlsson||21||2014–15|
|Most assists in a season||Jason Spezza||71||2005–06|
|Most assists in a season, defenceman||Erik Karlsson||66||2015–16|
|Most points in a season||Dany Heatley||105||2006–07|
|Most points in a season, defenceman||Erik Karlsson||82||2015–16|
|Most points in a season, rookie||Alexei Yashin||79||1993–94|
|Most penalty minutes in a season||Mike Peluso||318||1992–93|
|Highest +/– rating in a season||Daniel Alfredsson||+42||2006–07|
|Most games played||Chris Phillips||1,179||(milestone, up to 2014–15 season)|
|Most playoff games played||Daniel Alfredsson||121||1997–2013|
|Most goaltender wins in a season||Patrick Lalime||39||2002–2003|
|Most shutouts in a season||Patrick Lalime||8||2002–03|
|Lowest GAA in a season||Craig Anderson||1.69||2012–13|
|Best save percentage in a season||Craig Anderson||.941||2012–13|
- NHL Media Guide 2010. The original Senators organization, also known as the Ottawa Hockey Club, won the Stanley Cup eleven times, not the current franchise founded in 1992. Neither the NHL or the Senators claim the current Senators to be a continuation of the original organization or franchise. The awards, statistics and championships of both eras are kept separate and the NHL franchise founding date of the current Senators is in 1992.
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