Memorable Moments in Senators History

The city of Ottawa has a rich hockey history, dating back to the 1800's. Ottawa is considered by many to be synonymous with the history of hockey in Canada. These moments showcase the impact and historic significance that Ottawa has had on the game of Hockey.

Ottawa Electric Railway takes fans to games

Streetcars and hockey? The connection goes back to the winter of 1892 when the wondrous new Ottawa Electric Railway (OER) began ferrying rabid hockey fans to Ottawa Hockey Club matches at the Rideau Rink. Located at the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Waller Street (where the University of Ottawa Arts Building now stands), the structure was the last word in arena design and a gathering place for the smart set. Entrepreneurs Thomas Ahearn and Warren Soper had created the OER only the summer before and through the installation of giant sweeper brushes mounted on a maintenance car were able to keep the tracks clear of ice and snow in the winter months. Ahearn's son, Frank, eventually became owner of the Senators.

Booth's medals

Lumber baron and railroad magnate John Rudolphus Booth was a great hockey fan, especially of the Ottawas. It therefore came as no surprise that Booth contributed medals to the team, which were presented to the players at the Opera House on March 8, 1892. The problem was that in his enthusiasm, Booth had the medals inscribed "Winners of the Dominion Hockey Championship," even though the final match was yet to be played. The Ottawas lost that game in a challenge from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association after an undefeated season to that point. But the mistaken sentiment inscribed on Booth's medals was appreciated by all. Booth had another reason for favouring the Ottawas. The team frequently travelled on his Canada Atlantic Railway line.

Ted Dey

Sporting white spats to protect his shoes from winter's slush, Ted Dey was a familiar figure hovering around his hockey team and the arenas he owned and operated in Ottawa. E.P., as he was known, ran a boat-building firm with brothers Billy and Frank before getting into the rink business in the 1880s. Following the success of his two earlier rinks, he opened the Dey's Arena on Laurier Avenue in 1907. There he collected sizable rent from the Senators, who had become immensely popular. To ensure the survival of his prime tenant, Dey and partner Tommy Gorman bought the club in 1918 and ran it for five years. After relocating to New York City, Dey eventually moved to British Columbia, where he died in 1943. Dey is buried at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.

Russell House hotel

For the hockey community, it was a sadly nostalgic Saturday night in early spring 1928 when the grand old Russell House hotel burned down. Located on what is now the southern tip of the War Memorial plaza, the Russell was a magnet for the hockey crowd — owners, players, reporters and gamblers. Wheeler and dealer Joe Boyle, who brought his ill-fated Dawson City Klondikers to town in 1905, lobbied there on his frequent trips to the capital. Chauncey Kirby stood on a banquet hall table in 1892 responding to a toast acknowledging the Ottawas' championship season. And it was at that festive event where an aide to Lord Stanley of Preston announced the Governor General's willingness to donate a trophy for the champion team of the Dominion.

Rat Westwick's broken leg

In a career spanning 14 years, Harry Westwick was one of Ottawa's most popular early players. Gleefully dubbed Rat by his teammates because that is what he was called by a Quebec newspaper, Westwick was a member of Ottawa's first Stanley Cup team in 1903. But he didn't get to play in the deciding game. In the first game of the Cup series, Montreal Victorias tough guy Bert Strachan broke Westwick's leg with his stick. A doctor set the bone in the dressing room and handed Westwick a pair of crutches. Rat then proceeded to the stands to sit with his new bride, Ruby. Fifty-four years later, near the time of his death, he was using the same crutches following the amputation of his leg as a result of complications from the original fracture.

Punch Broadbent's scoring streak

In 1921-22, Ottawa's Harry (Punch) Broadbent scored at least one goal in 16 consecutive games, a National Hockey League record that stands today. The right-winger had a total of 32 goals in 24 games that year, playing on a line with Cy Denneny and Frank Nighbor. Punch lost three seasons of his pro hockey career during the First World War while overseas with the Canadian military as a sergeant in the field battery. That service earned him a military medal. So highly did the Senators value him that the very night he returned home from Europe, owner Tommy Gorman was at his door. Admitting his sea legs were better than his ice legs, Punch was in the lineup four nights later.

Eddie Gerard's signing bonus

Though courted by the Ottawa Senators, Eddie Gerard was reluctant to sign a pro contract for fear of losing his day job at the Geodetic Survey. Finally, mid-way through the 1914 season, Eddie relented when called into the Senators office. There on a table sat $400 in cash, which would be his as a bonus if he would put his name on the dotted line. He was also assured he could continue with his regular employment. Not a bad deal for the New Edinburgh amateur. Eddie's father was a God-fearing man of Scottish origin, who knew the value of a dollar. When Eddie arrived home and told him of his good fortune, Gerard senior, hiding his delight, blurted "They must be a bunch of damn fools!"

Alex Connell's shutout streak

Known affectionately as The Little Fireman, Alex Connell tended goal for eight seasons with the Senators. A colourful character on and off the ice, he wore a black cap between the pipes. Connell's greatest claim to fame followed his 1927 Stanley Cup season in which he recorded a goals-against average of 1.49 over 44 games. On the night of Jan. 31, 1928, Connell began a remarkable streak of six consecutive games without allowing a goal, victimizing Toronto, the Montreal Maroons, New York Rangers (twice), Pittsburgh and Montreal Canadiens. The record stands today. Preceding Connell's streak, the Senators had won three in a row (one by a shutout), and following it they won the next three (two by shutouts). In other words, The Little Fireman had racked up nine goose eggs in 12 games.

Praying Benny's ruse

Hockey's early rules required the goalkeeper to remain standing. He was not allowed to go down on his knees to trap the puck. There would be a penalty if he did. Ottawa's goalie Clint Benedict knew the rule very well and he devised a way of getting around it. He would pretend he had been knocked down or had lost his balance and had only fallen on the puck accidentally. To a fair-minded referee taken in by the ruse, no penalty was called for. Benedict became known as Praying Benny for the trick, which other goalies came to emulate. So widespread did this practice become that in 1917 rule makers finally threw up their hands and eliminated the stipulation that the goalie must remain upright at all times.