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TIL: There was once a WHA Ottawa Franchise

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Old
09-21-2012, 03:41 PM
  #1
FuriousSenator
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TIL: There was once a WHA Ottawa Franchise

Today I learned there was once a team which played in Ottawa for the World Hockey Association during the 1970s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Nationals

Pretty interesting read.

Very surprised to see that the team folded due to a lack of fans. You would think that with the way Ottawa clamoured for the return of an NHL franchise in the late 80s that any kind of professional hockey team would have had people out in droves to see them.

Instead the city waited an additional 20 years for another team to come in.

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09-21-2012, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdTheSabresFan View Post
Today I learned there was once a team which played in Ottawa for the World Hockey Association during the 1970s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Nationals

Pretty interesting read.

Very surprised to see that the team folded due to a lack of fans. You would think that with the way Ottawa clamoured for the return of an NHL franchise in the late 80s that any kind of professional hockey team would have had people out in droves to see them.

Instead the city waited an additional 20 years for another team to come in.
The Ottawa Civics briefly came into existence as a WHA franchise for a portion of the 1976 season.

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09-21-2012, 04:35 PM
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I don't know who was counting the gate but we went to a few games and the crowd looked pretty large when we were there. Some games we had to sit pretty high up. Maybe they gave a lot of freebies and didn't count those. The old seats were wider then so I don't know what the max attendance really was at the time.

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09-21-2012, 05:53 PM
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FuriousSenator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tundraman View Post
I don't know who was counting the gate but we went to a few games and the crowd looked pretty large when we were there. Some games we had to sit pretty high up. Maybe they gave a lot of freebies and didn't count those. The old seats were wider then so I don't know what the max attendance really was at the time.
Was there the same level of excitement in the city that there was when the NHL came to town, or was this simply another stop gap which everyone saw right through?

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09-21-2012, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdTheSabresFan View Post
Very surprised to see that the team folded due to a lack of fans. You would think that with the way Ottawa clamoured for the return of an NHL franchise in the late 80s that any kind of professional hockey team would have had people out in droves to see them.
Bear in mind that I was born in 1981, so I'm very much talking out my arse on this one, but remember that Ottawa, being four hours from Toronto and two from Montreal, has always had legions of Leafs and Habs fans. The Sens have always struggled to pull fans away from these two teams. and I can imagine it to be that much harder when it's a rival league (and likely to be a league perceived to be inferior to the NHL).

Feel free to correct me if I'm off-base, but I can't imagine there being a great incentive for people to drop their NHL allegiences and see this WHA team..

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Old
09-21-2012, 08:03 PM
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Tundraman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdTheSabresFan View Post
Was there the same level of excitement in the city that there was when the NHL came to town, or was this simply another stop gap which everyone saw right through?
Can't speak for the city but my friends and I weren't thinking long term going to games was just a fun night out. Nothing like the shock I felt when the city was awarded an NHL franchise

edit: A different time. No social media back then.

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Old
09-21-2012, 11:58 PM
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What people need to know about the Nationals is that Ottawa wasn't even supposed to have a team in the first place. They were supposed to play out of Toronto, and when they couldn't, they were to move to Hamilton. It was only when Hamilton fell through did the idea of them playing in Ottawa come up.

That, I imagine, is most of the reason why they failed: Ottawa was a last-minute-scramble destination for the city, which meant that they were never really marketed at all. I imagine the literature that was available at games was something like: "Introducing YOUR Toronto Hamilton Ottawa Nationals, the newest Pro Hockey team in town!"

I wasn't alive in '72, but I remember when I was a teenager, I had a conversation with an old boss of mine who had went to a few Nationals games when HE was a kid, and he said the atmosphere was almost like no one in the city knew we even had much of a team until the season was half over, and the team wasn't even that good.

There just wasn't any effort made by the owners to even market the team at all, because the owners never wanted to be in Ottawa in the first place... and lo and behold, they moved the team to Toronto, their intended destination all along, the very next season. The ownership just used Ottawa as a "placeholder city" for the team until they could get the deals in place that would allow them to play in Toronto.

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Old
09-22-2012, 12:22 AM
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Clamshells
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My dad's cousin played for the Civics for a little bit... he's also in a pretty exclusive club with Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, Ray Ferraro and Pat LaFontaine.

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09-22-2012, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clamshells View Post
My dad's cousin played for the Civics for a little bit... he's also in a pretty exclusive club with Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, Ray Ferraro and Pat LaFontaine.
quite an elite club, eh? My condolences for your dad's loss. Does your dad or his family every wonder what would have happened if uncle gary had chose the NHL over the WHA? Could've been a 4 or 5 time stanley cup champion, IMO.

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Old
09-22-2012, 12:52 PM
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There's a good book about the Ottawa Nationals, called "Left Wing and a Prayer". It was written by the owner Doug Michel.

It's been a while since I've read it but it sounded like few people believed the team and/or league would survive. The Ottawa 67's were very popular at the time, and the people running Landsdowne made things difficult for the Nationals. CFRA, who was a big player in media at that time, had the 67's games and often were negative about the Nationals.

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Old
09-22-2012, 03:59 PM
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Apparently Gilles Gratton was their goalie. Didn't have his tiger mask back then though

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Old
09-25-2012, 01:50 PM
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Rocket Richard
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Check out: www.whauniforms.com

P.S. I own a chinese knockoff Ottawa Nationals jersey!

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Old
09-26-2012, 12:40 PM
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Canadian91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Richard View Post
Check out: www.whauniforms.com

P.S. I own a chinese knockoff Ottawa Nationals jersey!


Where can I get one??

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Old
09-28-2012, 11:53 AM
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Ed Wood
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I never saw the Ottawa Civics play but the Ottawa Nationals played a full season here in 1972-73.

I bought a walk up ticket for $1.00 and got an excellent seat to watch the likes of Wayne Carleton (Phil Esposito lite) and Tom Simpson play a fine New England team with a bunch of former NHLers (Rick Ley, Brad Selwood) on the blueline. It was pretty decent hockey.

It was also the final season of Denis Potvin and Ian Turnbull playing for the 67s and the Nationals couldn't compete with that. The next season the Nationals became the Toronto Toros. With Potvin having graduated to the NHL I really think the Nationals could have succeeded if they'd stuck around for one more year.

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Old
09-28-2012, 12:19 PM
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Rocket Richard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Wood View Post
I never saw the Ottawa Civics play but the Ottawa Nationals played a full season here in 1972-73.

The next season the Nationals became the Toronto Toros.
Not even, they didn't even finish the season in Ottawa, they moved to Toronto for the Playoffs!

Here's a nice collector piece: http://www.google.ca/imgres?q=wha+ot...74&tx=38&ty=59


Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian91 View Post


Where can I get one??
Tried looking for you, can't find it.

Usually when I am looking for a unique jersey, I google the pic, and see what sites come up, and unfortunaletly lots of these Chinese companies come and go!

And no, I will not sell you my jesrey!


Last edited by Rocket Richard: 09-28-2012 at 01:43 PM.
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