On today’s date in 1990, following a two-year public campaign led by Ottawa real estate developer Bruce Firestone, the National Hockey League (NHL) awarded a new franchise to the Ottawa Senators, who would begin play in the 1992-93 season.
Firestone’s development firm, Terrace Investments, lacked the liquid assets to finance the expansion; however, his group, which included his colleagues Cyril Leeder and Randy Sexton, eventually leveraged a land development. In 1989, the group found a suitable site on farmland in Kanata, Ont., west of Ottawa, to build a new arena.
Firestone and his colleagues then announced their campaign and intention to win a franchise for Ottawa. The group launched a successful “Bring Back the Senators” campaign to promote the idea to the public as well as convince the NHL the City of Ottawa could support an NHL franchise. Despite uncertainty, public support was high and more than 11,000 people pledged to buy season tickets
ORIGINAL OTTAWA HOCKEY CLUB
Ottawa’s original hockey club was founded in 1883 and has a storied history with 11 Stanley Cup Championships. The club—officially the Ottawa Hockey Club—had nicknames, including the Generals in the 1890s; the Silver Seven from 1903-07; and the Senators from 1908. The club competed in the NHL until the 1933-34 season, when it relocated to St. Louis, Mo., because of financial difficulties.
Designed by Canadian artist Silvia Pecota, the reverse of the Passion to Play Ottawa Senators coin features an engraved scene celebrating hockey in the nation’s capital, where young Ottawa Senators fans head outdoors to play street hockey. The autumn colours of Eastern Ontario are shown in the background, where red, orange and yellow maple foliage adds a burst of colour.
Four children are on roller blades, scrambling for the puck, as one boy rolls behind the unguarded net to join the boy and girl in the foreground. Each child is bearing a wide grin that is a natural expression of their enthusiasm and deep love for the game. Above them, the Senators logo features a forward-facing Roman senator wrapped in a red-coloured cape and set against a semi-circle of laurel leaves, whose “O” shape is associated with the home city of Ottawa.
The obverse of the coin, which has a weight of 15.87 grams; a 34-mm diameter; a matte Proof finish; and serrated edges, bears the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
Last year, the Mint also issued a seven-piece set of Fine silver coins commemorating the NHL’s Canadian franchises—again, one for each of Canada’s seven NHL teams: the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and the aforementioned Ottawa Senators.
With the same specifications as this year’s “Passion to Play” issue, these coins feature a stylized silhouette of a hockey player on a rink on the reverse alongside the Senators logo. The reverse is also engraved with the word “CANADA”, the date “2015” and the face value of “10 DOLLARS”.
In 2014, the Mint teamed up with Canada Post to commemorate the Senators in a coin and stamp gift set, which included two stamps and a 25-cent cupro-nickel coin with a specimen finish. The coin has a weight of 0.5 grams; a 35-mm diameter; and plain edges.