The Ottawa Civics was a professional ice hockey team based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada that played a portion of one season in the World Hockey Association (WHA) in a mid-season relocation of the Denver Spurs.
The Denver Spurs began play in the Western Hockey League in 1968 and had been modestly successful in the minors before moving to the WHA in 1975.
However, fans in Denver had been expecting an NHL team after Spurs owner Ivan Mullenix won a conditional NHL expansion franchise to begin play in the 1976-77 season, only to see those plans fizzle out. They did not consider the WHA to be a major league.
The team was essentially the re-incarnation of the failed Chicago Cougars franchise and played poorly at home in front of few fans.
The Spurs were plagued by financial difficulties & poor attendance (less than 3,000 per game and they were also dogged by rumors that the NHL was planning to move either the Kansas City Scouts or the league-owned California Golden Seals to Denver. Mullenix knew that he could not possibly compete with an NHL team.
The team unofficially folded in December when Mullenix wanted out and the league stepped in to broker a deal with an Ottawa group called the Founders Club.
The team left on an extended road trip in January 1976, even playing two unofficial home games in Ottawa in front of sell out crowds, but the Founders Club simply did not have the means nor the money to close the purchase.
On January 17, 1976 the team officially folded after only playing 7 games as Ottawa. Without so much as a press release, the Spurs were quietly moved to Ottawa and renamed the Civics.
Allegedly, the players only learned of the move at their next road game that night in Cincinnati, when they stood on the ice in their Denver jerseys and suddenly heard "O Canada" being played.
The team lost that night and again the following night in Houston, then knocked off the Minnesota Fighting Saints (another squad headed for oblivion before the season was over) in Minnesota, 5-2, on January 4th. It would be only victory in the Civics' short life.
Because of the rushed nature of the move, the Civics did not adopt a logo or colours and continued to wear the Spurs' uniforms.
Major league hockey would not return to Ottawa until the reborn Senators joined the NHL in the 1992-93 season.
The last active Spurs/Civics player in the NHL was Ron Delorme, who retired after the 1984-85 season.
The Spurs/Civics' 41-game existence made them easily the shortest-lived team in the WHA's seven-year history.
|1975–76||41||14||26||1||29||134||172||535||5th, Western||Folded mid-season|