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  • Home: Ottawa, ON
  • Stadium: Ottawa Civic Centre (10,500 - playoff games in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens)
  • Team synopsis: Originally supposed to share a club with Toronto, folded after first season in Ottawa.
  • The city of Ottawa was never one of the WHA's first choices. But shortly after the league announced its intentions to begin play in the fall of 1972, its plans of having a team in Toronto fell through when a suitable deal couldn't be reached with Harold Ballard, owner of the NHL's Maple Leafs as well as their building, Maple Leaf Gardens. The franchise was put instead in the nation's capital, playing out of the Ottawa Civic Center. After hiring NHL veteran coach Billy Harris, despite placing Brad Park, Dave Keon, Eddie Shack and goalie Doug Favell on their preliminary draft list, they were unable to sign any of the stars. Still, they began picking up some 'middle of the pack' ex-NHL'ers such as Guy Trottier and Penguins' goalie Les Binkley. The inaugural season was full of ups and downs, which greatly hindered attendance, averaging around 3,000 per game. Along with character players seasoned in the NHL, the Nationals also picked up some young prospects, placing high hopes on defenceman Bob Leduc and goalie Gilles Gratton. Along with veteran Les Binkley, Gratton helped give the Nationals a fairly stable duo. But playing behind a suspect defence, neither could register a GAA better than 3 and a half per game. They finished the season fourth in the East with 74 points. Not the worst team in the league, and by far not the best, their debut saw them finish eighth in scoring but ninth in goals against.

    They made the playoffs the first year but troubles with crowds mounted. They decided to play their playoffs matchup in Toronto, where they went up against the New England Whalers in the first round. On paper, the Whalers were vastly superior, and proved it in the post season. 20 points better during the regular season, the Whalers dispatched of Ottawa 4 games to 1, eventually winning the inaugural Avco Cup. A bright spot though was the number of people who showed up to support the team, as the Maple Leafs were mediocre at best at the time and had missed the playoffs again. The response given the 'alternative Nationals' set the wheels in motion for one of the league's first moves (after play actually began that is). But that summer owner Doug Michel fell into financial problems and sold the team to John Bassett. Under the new ownership, the Nationals moved down the highway and set up shop as the Toronto Toros, where they played for 3 seasons before moving to Birmingham. After 3 years in Dixie, they applied for admission into the NHL but along with Cincinnati, were turned down.

    Ottawa Nationals - '72-'73
    Mike Amadeo Les Binkley Wayne Carlton Ron Climie Gilles Gratton Bob Leduc Guy Trottier

    SEASON W L T P GF GA PIM SEASON FINISH
    1972-1973 35 39 4 74 279 301 1067 ROUND 1: lost to Whalers in 5 games

    TIMELINE
    Ottawa Nationals
    Ottawa Nationals
    Toronto Toros
    Toronto Toros
    Birmingham
    Birmingham Bulls
    '72-'73 '73-'76 '76-'79

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