Just finished reading Win, Tie or Wrangle, a totally awesome book by local hockey historian Paul Kitchen. A fascinating read, highly recommended if you are either a) a hockey fan or b) a local history buff.
The book chronicles the highs and lows of organized hockey from the 1880’s until the original Ottawa Senators franchise left for St. Louis in 1934. What amazed me was the similarities between hockey then, and hockey now. Just like today, the original Sens had to deal with:
- star player contract disputes
- relocation of franchises from Canada to the U.S.
- debates about scheduling
- debates about rule changes
- a sometimes hostile press
- economic downturnsviolence in hockey (it was way worse back then!)
Another theme that wove through the book was the skilled leadership available to the hockey club because of its location in Canada’s capital. Ottawa had an organizational advantage over other cities because of the organizational skills of all the politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats and businessmen in the city. (And it’s a tradition that still continues – think Bruce Firestone, Cyril Leeder, Jim Durrell, Roy Mlakar and others responsible for the continuing strength of hockey in Ottawa.)
So even though we may not have had the population of Montreal, or the financial clout of New York City, our little city was still able to produce a competitive hockey team. More than just being competitive, our city produced a Stanley Cup dynasty in the early years. Check out this video from Sens TV – particularly the comments from Paul Kitchen at the end, who puts the success of the original Senators in context:
Related: Ottawa Hockey Guide