The Ottawa Civics were a professional ice hockey team that played a short part of a season in the World Hockey Association.

Pre-1975[edit | edit source]

For more details on that period, please see Denver Spurs.

Initially named the Denver Spurs, the franchise that enjoyed success in the Western Hockey League] found itself in the need to find a new league when the WHL folded in 1974. After playing the 1974-75 season in the Central Hockey League, the team was admitted to the World Hockey Association for the 1975-76 WHA season.

1975-76[edit | edit source]

The Spurs, not unlike most of the other teams to have played in the WHA, had financial difficulties. The home games drew poor attendences and there were ongoing reports that the National Hockey League was going to establish a team in Denver; indeed, two teams were candidates for relocation there, the Kansas City Scouts and the California Golden Seals. All of those factors led to a legendary hasty mid-season move of the Spurs to Ottawa on January 2nd 1976. Allegedly, nobody bothered telling the players that the team had moved, and they learned of it when, standing on the ice before their next game in Cincinnati against the Cincinnati Stingers, heard the O Canada being played. The team lost that night; they also lost on the next against the Houston Aeros. On January 4th, the team defeated the Minnesota Fighting Saints, who wouldn't survive the season either, 5-2. This win happened to be the first and last win of the Civics history.

On January 7th 1976, the team played its first home game in Ottawa, the first WHA game in the Canadian capital since the departure of the Ottawa Nationals some two years and a half before. The players found themselves playng in front of a crowd not much bigger than that they had been accustomed to in Denver and lost to the New England Whalers 3-2. The team returned on the road for two more losses and went back to the Ottawa Civic Centre on January 15th for another match against Houston. The Civics fought hard and brought the game in overtime; the Aeros however scored the game winner, ending the game... and the franchise history it turned out, as the team officially declared it ceased activities on the very next day.

The Civics, all in all, lasted only seven games. For those seven games, the team didn't even have a new uniform and a new logo, for the move was too rushed; they kept playing in the Spurs' uniform, that had however been stripped bare of its logo. All Civics players were declared free agents by the league and a dispersal draft was held. Several players found a new address, including leading scorer Ralph Backstrom, who, at 37, moved to New England; many of the other players, however, would sit the remainder of the season out before coming back in another league the next season; others like Brian Lavender retired.

No other major professional franchises established itself in Ottawa until the Ottawa Senators were founded in 1992.

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