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"Nothing But A Two-Night Stand"


(Photo: 1972-73 Ottawa Nationals/Ice Hockey Wiki)



(Photo: Houston Aeros vs Ottawa Nationals/Ice Hockey Wiki)


The World Hockey Association began playing games in earnest in October of 1972. Thus began an exciting and volatile time across the hockey landscape. Players who had toiled in the National Hockey League in the spotlight or in anonymity began jumping over to the new league in exchange for big raises compared to what they were getting in the more established loop.


Leading the way was “The Golden Jet”, Bobby Hull. Hull had been the game’s biggest star for years but when the rebel league wanted to establish some much-needed credibility, they went hard after Chicago’s big Number Nine! The Winnipeg Jets signed Hull to a five-year contract worth $1 million. That deal was underwritten by every team in the nascent league.

One of the teams that started in that inaugural season was the Ottawa Nationals. Though parts of the market in the nation’s capital embraced the new team, not enough others did. By the end of the 1972-73 season, the Nats were playing their postseason games in Toronto, the victims of erratic attendance and their ever-fluid deal with the city of Ottawa and the team’s use of the Ottawa Civic Centre.


The Nationals became the Toronto Toros and eventually, the Birmingham Bulls. Two and a half years after the Nats left town, an Ottawa group was looking for another World Hockey Association team for the city. It turned out they could have had their pick of teams from the fledgling league who were having some financial difficulties at that time. The Minnesota Fighting Saints always seemed on the brink of insolvency. And the San Diego Mariners were on shaky ground as well.


But The Founders Club, the group that was looking to attract a franchise to Ottawa, had their eyes on the Denver Spurs. The Spurs were owned by Ivan Mullenix, a St. Louis native who made his money in real estate. Most of the players had worked in Chicago as the WHA Cougars the previous season before that team disbanded. It was great that the Ottawa group wanted to bring pro hockey back to the nation’s capital, but as the news began to get out, mayor Lorry Greenberg let it be known that the city would not give a penny to help.


At this point, Mullenix was now heavily leveraged and owed a lot of money to a bunch of different people. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the city of Denver filed liens against the Spurs for almost $50,000 for unpaid taxes. He also owed the First National Bank of Denver $2 million. He was motivated to sell. Also, if you get close to missing payroll and don’t pay your players on time, even a league like the WHA will take action.


In 1975-76, WHA teams were each set to play 80-game schedules. By the end of December of 1975, according to the Ottawa Citizen’s Jack Koffman, the Spurs had played 34 games and had won just 13 of them. They were not a good team. In Denver, the team had been drawing about 3,000 fans per game. Hardly enough to sustain a franchise through a season or into the future.


The league apparently stepped in and was advocating for a sale between Mullenix and The Founders Club in Ottawa. Mullenix wanted $1.5 million for the club. The principal figures in the deal trying to bring the Spurs to Ottawa were Ottawa clothier Henry Feller and Ron Sparling, who, as a musician, producer and mentor, made The Family Brown into a household name in the Ottawa Valley and beyond.


Koffman did not seem optimistic that any deal could last. In the January 2, 1976 edition of the Citizen, he wrote, “It could prove to be a one night stand or a marriage of lasting duration. The outcome rests entirely on the number of people the Spurs can draw for the meeting with the (New England) Whalers.” That game was set for the Ottawa Civic Centre on January 7.Communication between Mullenix, the league and the Ottawa group seemed to be on the down-low, at least as far as the players were concerned. January 2 was a Friday.


The Spurs/Civics were in Cincinnati for a game against the Stingers that night. Before the game, both the American and Canadian anthems were played. The Spurs’ players were surprised by this. That was how they found out that they were now a Canadian-based team.

The Spurs/Civics lost that night by a score of 2-1. Ralph Backstrom was the leading scorer on the new Ottawa team, and he was not at all thrilled about the apparent move from Denver to Ottawa. He announced he would not be part of the new venture. “I have fond memories of Ottawa, but it is questionable however, whether I’ll report.”


Backstrom had played his junior hockey in Ottawa when he was a part of the Montreal Canadiens’ organization. But he said he had a clause in his contract with the Spurs and Mullenix that, in the event of a franchise shift, he was no longer bound by the club. “As of right now, I am a free agent. I really don’t know what I will do but I will do nothing until I talk to my wife.”


As far as the transfer of the Spurs to the group from Ottawa, according to a piece in the Ottawa Journal on Saturday, January 3, Mullenix sent a proposal to the Founders Club on New Year’s Eve. That night, the Montreal Canadiens were hosting the Soviet Red Army team. I was watching the game on the television in our basement family room.


One of the people who was doing a lot of the speaking for the Feller-Sparling group was Ottawa Citizen columnist Bob Mellor. Mellor also happened to be my mother’s brother and was upstairs at our house that night. He spent a good chunk of time on the phone, doubtless, trying to make as many arrangements as one can make when one is trying to assist in the movement of a professional sports franchise from one city to another.


The Civics had two more road games to play after their loss in Cincinnati before they were set to play a “home” date at the Civic Centre against the Whalers on Wednesday, January 7. Tickets for that game were speedily being printed to be made available in time for that contest. Prices would be $4, $6 and $8. There would be discounts for children, students and seniors, but the prospective owners wanted to have as big a crowd as they could possibly attract.


The bigger the crowd they got, the more likely the Founders Club might be able to retain the franchise.


Outside of Ottawa though, the perception seemed to be that the likelihood the Spurs/Civics could draw enough fans to the Civic Centre to warrant the club moving there was quite low. An Associated Press piece called hockey fans in the nation’s capital “fickle” and made light of the fact that the junior Ottawa 67s outdrew the Nationals when the WHA was last playing there.


While all this drama was happening off the ice in Ottawa, in St. Louis, where Mullenix lived and worked, and in Denver, the now former home of the Spurs/Civics, the team was on the ice on Saturday, January 3 in Houston against Gordie Howe and the Aeros. The home team doubled the Civics 4-2. Andre Hinse had two goals for Houston, while Howe and Len Lund added singles for Houston.


On the Sunday in St. Paul, Minnesota against the Fighting Saints. Lynn Zimmerman, an American League goaltender who was on a tryout with the club, made 38 saves in a 5-2 Ottawa win. Don Borgeson had a pair of goals in the victory. One of his goals was set up by Ralph Backstrom who, while expressing his wish to be a free agent, was still playing and performing well for his teammates.


The next day, Mullenix spoke with the Ottawa Journal’s Gerald Redmond. He described the Civics “as a team in search of a home”. According to Redmond, he also described himself as “an owner of a team looking for a buyer”. That seemed to be an indication that the fact that the club’s name, “Ottawa Civics”, was certainly not written yet in pen on anything.


In the Journal piece, there was no deadline for him to reach any kind of agreement for a completed sale of the team at this point, but he would certainly want to get it done as soon as possible – especially given the huge albatross of debt that was hanging over his head. “The ultimate, of course, would be to complete a sale within the next few days. It is my intention to sell the franchise, but I can’t say whether that can be accomplished now or next month or three months from now.”


He didn’t say it explicitly, but he certainly strongly intimated that Ottawa could be where the team settled for at least the 1975-76 season. “The team was not supported in Denver. I was faced with the problem of finding a community that would support the team. There was no support from the business community in Denver.”


“I had a package arranged to sell limited shares in the club. I sold only twenty of 100 units and all of them were in St. Louis. None in Denver. Our average paid attendance was somewhere between 2,400 and 2,500. The 3,500 average you’ve been hearing includes a thousand free tickets.”


At this point in the season, was there anywhere else the team could have moved to other than Ottawa? Mullenix told Redmond this, “I am not aware of other spots where the team could be relocated. I had three alternatives – either sell the club, relocate the team, or disband the franchise. I moved the team here (to Ottawa).”


Redmond pressed Mullenix on the negotiations between himself and the Feller-Sparling group, but the owner was tight-lipped. “We are negotiating everything, and I won’t comment further than that except to say negotiations will continue.” The price of the franchise had been widely reported as $1.5 million but he would not confirm that either. Nor would he disclose how much the games in Ottawa would need to bring in to determine if the team might stay there long-term. “I regard that as confidential,” Mullenix told the Journal columnist.


In the meantime, as the two sides convened off and on behind closed doors and via telephone, the time for the Civics’ first real home game was quickly approaching. The Civics picked a tough time to try to win games and impress the local fan base. They had lost to the Houston Aeros in the first of a back-to-back on the weekend and now they were facing the Eastern Division leading New England Whalers in their hastily arranged mid-week home game at the Civic Centre.


All indications were that Ralph Backstrom would be in uniform for the Civics. It was unsure that he would travel to Ottawa given his announced feelings at the outset of this entire situation. No one could give a clear picture of how things stood heading into the Wednesday night affair. “I haven’t even had a chance to talk with Ralph,” Mullenix told the Ottawa Citizen’s Tom Sarsfield. “I did call Jeff Rosen, his agent, but I haven’t had any direct contact with Ralph, and honestly, that’s all I know about it.”


The coach of the team, Jean-Guy Talbot was apparently in the same boat as the owner regarding Backstrom. “When I talked to Ralph (Monday) night, he didn’t know whether he was coming or not and I didn’t know until after we got here this afternoon (Tuesday), what his decision was.” Backstrom playing in the game was one bit of decent news for fans of the new club. The other was that advance sales of tickets for the game were over 3,000 at close of business on Tuesday night. Hopes were that between 6,500 and 7,500 would be on hand in the building come puck drop on Wednesday evening.


David Gavsie, a member of the Founders Club’s legal committee and executive, told Sarsfield that negotiations between the Ottawa group and Mullenix were still ongoing. The team had 19 home games remaining on their schedule. The next one after the Wednesday night against the Whalers was another meeting with Howe’s Aeros the following Thursday (January 15). After that, everything would depend on the talks between the Founders Club, Mullenix, open dates for the Civic Centre, potential schedule revisions at the league level, etc.


There were a couple of hopes for the game on that Wednesday night. First, the Founders Club wanted to draw a decent crowd to the arena. Second, it would have been nice to see a victory for the newly adopted home team. As the puck was dropped, the crowd was still arriving but, ultimately, 8,457 fans crammed themselves into the Civic Centre for the contest. This was well beyond the roughly anticipated 7,000. And as the players skated out on to the ice, the patrons stood and cheered loudly for their recently acquired ‘boys’.


The team had skated on this ice for the first time late that morning and early afternoon in a light workout and hours later, they provided their boisterous onlookers with a splendid effort. The only problem was that, even though they created numerous scoring chances, they just couldn’t put the puck into the net as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Whalers.


Brian Lavender’s second goal of the game halfway through the middle period for the home team put them into a 2-2 tie with New England. The score stayed that way well into the third frame as the tension mounted for everyone watching. But Tom Webster, who used to break the hearts of Ottawa 67s fans when he played for the old Niagara Falls Flyers, scored the winning goal for the Whalers with just 2:26 remaining to break the hearts of the Civics and their fans.


Those fans again rose to their feet as the players skated off the ice and let the Civics know that they appreciated their work on that night. There are people who were in the building that night who figured the crowd there was one of the loudest and “liveliest” that had ever been in the Civic Centre in its near decade of existence.


After the game, Talbot told reporters that he wanted more than just a good effort. “We didn’t get those two points we wanted.” He said he was still happy with the way his club played though, but given the circumstances of the previous week, they might be excused if, mentally, they may have been a little shellshocked. “They’re still tired and upset by the events of the past few days.” He then added, “We’ve played this well before and lost by a goal.”


The press gathered around Ralph Backstrom as well, to get his thoughts on this night. He first talked about the crowd, saying it was the best he had seen in a few years. But he still had to figure out his own situation with the team. “We did some talking today and we’ll still do more in the next day or so. I have to get this resolved within the next couple of days.”


The Citizen’s Bob Mellor was excited by the crowd and apparently the players were too. Rick Morris was a left winger for the Civics and Mellor asked him after the game if the players had turned the crowd on. “Did we turn them on? Hell, they turned us on. If we’ve got 18 more games in here, we’ll win 16 of them. And it’ll all be because of that crowd!”


Morris’ reaction was visceral. “I’m telling you, we were shook. When the first guy went out there under that spotlight and we heard the roar, it was totally unbelievable. It took us about ten minutes to recover. You’ve got to know what it’s like after playing in Denver where they crapped on us and coming to this. It does something to you.”


It’s easy to forget that this team had been through upheaval and uncertainty. But it’s funny how one night in front of an appreciative mob of fans can change a player’s outlook. “One day, you wake up somewhere like we did and suddenly you don’t know who you are or where you belong. And something like this happens. I can’t get over it,” exclaimed the happy Morris.


Mike Houghton, a member of the Founders Club, was at ice level sending each player out after they had been introduced. He told Mellor that many of the players told him, one by one, “We’re going to win this one tonight, for you people.” They tried but fell just short. Ottawa’s traditional colours have always been red, black and white. But when someone suggested to Houghton that the Civics uniforms of orange, black and white should be altered, he shot back, “There’s no way we should change it now. Everything seems to fit – the rink, the colours, the name.”


That was how much that one night affected the people who were there. An instant love affair had begun. But how long would it last? There was still a lot to work out and also a long and winding road to traverse. Tomorrow was another negotiation day.


In fact, there were conflicting reports coming out less than 24 hours after the wonderful moments at the Civic Centre on the Wednesday night. The Citizen’s sports editor Jack Koffman wrote that one such item had come out on Thursday that Mullenix had given the Founders Club ten days to come up with the purchase money or “he’d call the whole thing off.” Koffman says that Mullenix denied that story almost immediately.


Koffman called the team owner and got what seemed like an emphatic response. “It’s no secret that I want to get out of hockey. But the suggestion that I’m holding a pistol over the heads of the group trying to raise the necessary purchase money is way out of line. I’d like to have them phone me in 24 hours and say they’ve got the money and want to sign the papers. But I’m not looking for miracles. I’m anxious to see this club find a home and Ottawa could be the answer. I’m willing to wait rather than shut the door on the city and the athletes.”


This was all going on as the team was going through their morning skate at the Civic Centre. People there were still talking about the game atmosphere the night before and the corresponding crowd reception. Jean-Guy Talbot talked about it from the players’ point of view. “Imagine how young second-year pros like Gary MacGregor and Frank Rochon felt to hear the club get a standing ovation before and after the game.”


He continued, “Remember, they played in Chicago last year with the Cougars when there was no financial support or interest. Then, they were in Denver this season with an average of 3,000 or so in a beautiful building which holds 17,000. They could hardly believe it all. The same goes for me and all the other players. It’s encouraging to get such support and to have many friends willing to wish you well.”


The effort the team gave the Ottawa fans was encouraging and Talbot addressed that as well. “We lost nine home games in Denver by one goal and now we have done the same thing in our only game here. But we looked real good against the New England Whalers even though we only scored twice and lost. I told the boys it’ll all change at any moment if we keep trying as hard as we did against the Whalers.”


The Civics would head out for a couple of road games on the weekend. On Saturday night they were playing in Phoenix and then it was up to Winnipeg on Sunday to play the Jets. This was the dilemma of being a Western Division team playing in a city in the Eastern time zone. A lot of flight miles.


One thing to remember in this whole story is that, when discussing the Ottawa Civics, there was the hockey side and there was the front office side. The hockey side was pretty simple. They just wanted to play the game and not have to concern themselves with what was happening “upstairs”. But “upstairs, there was an owner who was being hounded by creditors and wanting to sell for the highest amount. Then there was a group who was not only wanting to purchase the franchise but also trying to sell hope to a fan base that only wanted to watch and be concerned about hockey.


While the Ottawa Citizen was fully on board with this new toy, its local competitor, the Ottawa Journal was playing with more of a ‘wait and see’ attitude. In a column by Gerald Redmond in the Saturday edition of the Journal, Mullenix had returned to St. Louis, and he had a formal proposal from The Founders Club. The Ottawa group was trying to raise money through individual memberships of anywhere from $25 to $1,000.


Redmond spelled out a lot of what looked like facts versus a lot of the hope that everyone in Ottawa had been feeling up to that point. Most reports said that Mullenix wanted $1.5 million for the team but there were differing numbers out there. Some lower, around $1.2 million were circulating as well. But Redmond contended that it didn’t matter what the price was. If the league wanted Ottawa in, then financing could be found to allow the group to purchase the team, in the event they couldn’t raise all of it.


That was one thing. Redmond felt it was completely different if the team was soliciting financial support from the public and they weren’t offering information that should be due to anyone who was ponying up money for anything they were investing in, whether that was furniture, a car, a house or perhaps a hockey team.


On the Friday after the Whalers’ game, the Founders Club put out a statement attempting to detail talks between the two parties. “After three days of intensive discussions, the Founders Club has made a tentative proposal to owner Ivan Mullenix, to buy the Ottawa Civics. The tentative proposal does not constitute a binding obligation by either side and negotiations to this end are still continuing.”


“Mr. Mullenix has returned to St. Louis where the proposal submitted by the Founders Club is under consideration by both he and the financial institution with which he deals. Until the proposal has been finalized, further details of the proposal cannot be made known at this time.” The Founders have made an offer. That didn’t necessarily mean that they had the money, but if it was accepted, they would then have to find it.


It was Redmond’s contention that they did not have that money. If they did, they would not have to go to the public and ask people to buy memberships or shares in the team. They also hadn’t gone to those members of the public and spelled out what those people would get for their money. They also had not detailed their costs to people. That would also be something that those folks forking over money might want to know.


One important detail to keep in mind was that the team’s payroll was due on January 15. There were circulated reports that the Ottawa group had come up with the money necessary to meet that obligation. Some members of the Founders Club said that was false. They said that the onus for that still rested with Mullenix.


Also, members of the group told Redmond that there was no deadline for negotiations. But, realistically, given Mullenix’ financial burdens, would it not have made sense for him to want to have the sale completed by that January 15 payroll date? If that was the case, then the clock on those discussions was quickly winding down, wasn’t it?


Back on the ice, the Civics went 0-for-2 on their weekend road trip. In Phoenix on Saturday, they lost a wild game to the Roadrunners by a score of 8-5. Robbie Ftorek had a hat trick for Phoenix. The team’s situation, which could best be termed “unsettled”, had to be taking a mental and emotional toll on some, if not all of the Ottawa players. Despite that, Phoenix coach Sandy Hucul figured that “in view of their situation, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”


The long flight from Arizona up to Winnipeg had to be taxing for everyone as well. At least the game against the Jets made it to overtime. Ottawa had a 5-3 lead halfway through the third period, but they began to sag as this one wound down. When Norm Beaudin scored to bring Winnipeg to within a goal, it became apparent that it was only a matter of time. The game was tied after regulation and Anders Hedberg scored the winner in overtime. There were no ‘loser points’ in the WHA at that time, so Ottawa came home with nothing in terms of points to show for the two days.


It turns out that making payroll wasn’t just a potential issue in Ottawa. In Minnesota, the Fighting Saints players weren’t paid in December. The players there agreed to continue to play in the hopes that the franchise could be kept alive. Those hopes were fading quickly, however. Dave Overpeck, a writer for the Indianapolis Star wrote in the Sunday paper that Saints’ president Wayne Belisle “has a rather large credibility gap to bridge and proposals and promises from him don’t figure to be very impressive. If he doesn’t have something substantial to offer, it’s likely the franchise will be closed down.”


As far as the Civics’ transfer situation was concerned, Overpeck wrote, “If the financing is at hand, there’ll be no problem in accepting the Civics as full-fledged members of the lodge. But if it looks like Ottawa is going to be this year’s Baltimore, the league may elect for a quick funeral.” Not exactly a promising endorsement.


The All-Star break was taking place in Cleveland on Monday and Tuesday, so the players in Ottawa and Minneapolis-St. Paul could have a semblance of a respite from the day-to-day ramblings of the financial pages. But, on Monday, some news came out of Cleveland that could have made people in Ottawa who were hoping for a neat and tidy ending to the negotiations between Mullenix and the Founders Club want to take a deep breath and sit down.


Henry Feller told reporters that Ivan Mullenix had increased his price. “We have made our offer known to Mullenix and we have made it known to the league,” Feller said. “We are prepared to pay either Mullenix or the league a certain amount of money. That’s as far as we can go.” Feller did not say what the amount of the offer was.


The Founders Club set a deadline for Mullenix to respond to their offer. According to David Gavsie, the response was to be a yes or a no. There would be no consideration of counter proposals regarding price, terms or conditions. Gavsie said those would be “out of our league”. “We made an offer to Mr. Mullenix last Thursday (January 8) and we heard almost nothing from him until our people met him in Cleveland where his reply was way beyond our means. We put a package together Thursday afternoon and he has it now.”


At this point, the team was not a group of hockey players anymore, but was a piece of property. As Tom Sarsfield put it in an article in the Citizen, “should Mullenix refuse the proposal or attempt to negotiate further, it’s likely the Founders Club would terminate discussions with him, and he would be left with a hockey team to run on his own.”


Up to game time on Thursday night, nothing was said regarding a decision from Mullenix or the Founders Club. The game took place as scheduled and the Civic Centre was absolutely full. The people in the arena that night definitely wanted professional hockey in Ottawa. All 9,355 seats in the building were sold and taken. Even the press box was packed. And they were there to watch Gordie Howe, his sons Mark and Marty and the rest of the Houston Aeros play against their adopted team.


The game was a real banger. The Civics took a 2-0 lead on a first period goal by Francois Rochon and another one in the second by Don Borgeson. Andre Hinse brought the Aeros back to within a goal before the second intermission. Marty Howe scored early in the third to tie the game. Gord Labossiere put a puck past Ottawa goalie Cam Newton 27 seconds later to make it 3-2 for Houston. But a couple of minutes later, Ralph Backstrom scored to tie the game back up again.


About a minute after Backstrom’s marker, the Civics’ Darryl Maggs sent the crowd into a frenzy when he gave his team a 4-3 advantage. That lead lasted about a minute and a half. The Aeros put on a precision passing clinic when Gordie Howe moved the puck over to his son Mark who fed Rich Preston for the game tying goal. Once again, this one was going to overtime.


97 seconds into extra period, Gord Labossiere ended the party and the night for everyone in the sold-out arena when he scored the game winning goal and gave the Aeros the victory. Houston outshot the Civics 55-25, but Cam Newton did everything he could in the Ottawa goal to keep his team in the game.


The day before this game was my brother’s birthday. He turned 15. I would celebrate my 16th birthday ten days after this game. I was in the arena with my dad, my brother and one of our friends. Earlier that day, Mullenix was supposed to engage in a phone call with The Founders’ Club. No call took place.

        

Mullenix didn’t make payroll and when the Ottawa group came up a half-million dollars short of the number that the Spurs/Civics owner was asking for the team, the deal fell through. The Civics were folded immediately. Players on the team were dispersed throughout the league. And the city of Ottawa was bereft of a professional hockey team again until sixteen years later when the Senators came to town before the 1992-93 season.


The dealing of Ralph Backstrom almost immediately following the game against Houston and the almost immediate trades of a number of other players indicated that, as time wore on, Mullenix had no intention of accepting the Ottawa group’s offer and had been making deals with Indianapolis and Cleveland. According to the Citizen’s Bob Mellor, “the deals couldn’t have been made without a head start.”


On the Thursday night of the Aeros game, the WHA’s vice president of hockey operations, Bud Poile, was in the arena and told some members of the Founders Club, “Look, sometimes the best deals you can make are the ones you don’t.” The fact that the league didn’t make Ottawa the home for a sixth Canadian WHA team, according to Mellor, was their mistake. “(T)heir loss is at least as great as ours.”


About two weeks after the final Spurs/Civics on that Thursday night game at the Civic Centre, John Honderich wrote a piece in the Citizen that kind of encapsulated the way both sides looked at the song and dance that had played out before the eyes of hockey fans not just in Ottawa, but everywhere.


There were two quotes at the top of the article, and they read as follows:


“If there was one mistake they (the Founders Club) made, it was assuming I had no alternative but to deal with them. They found out otherwise.” – Ivan Mullenix


“There were times I got the impression Mullenix felt we were just country farmers.” – Henry Feller


As far as Denver fans were concerned, they didn’t have to wait nearly as long for a pro hockey team. The Kansas City Scouts, who had played in the NHL in the 1974-75 and 1975-76 season, moved to Denver and became the Colorado Rockies before the 1976-77 hockey year. The Rockies lasted there until the end of the 1981-82 season and then moved to New Jersey and became the Devils.


Where is David Puddy when you need him?


Oh, and if you’re wondering whatever happened to Ivan Mullenix, the conclusion of his story was not a happy one. Mullenix continued to work in real estate. His life in the public eye waned as time went on. But there are numerous reports from early on the morning of July 18, 2013 that say he was stabbed to death by his wife, Mary. He was 76 at the time of his death.


Mary was charged at the scene with one count of second-degree murder, another count of armed criminal action and one more count of tampering with physical evidence. A few years before he was murdered, his three sons, who were also involved in his real estate company sued their father for control of the business. That suit was later dismissed.

 

I will let the esteemed Ottawa Journal columnist Eddie MacCabe have the last word on this entire subject. Once it was all over, he wrote, “Ottawa’s torrid romance with the World Hockey Association, which thousands of fans looked to as an enduring marriage, was nothing but a two-night stand.”


A two-night stand. Thanks, Eddie.

 

          *

Howie’s new book MORE Crazy Days & Wild Nights, eleven new stories of outlandish and wild events that occurred in sports over the last fifty years, is available on Amazon. It’s the follow-up to his first book of 2023, Crazy Days & Wild Nights! If you love sports and sports history, you need these books!

You can hear Howie and his co-host Shawn Lavigne talk sports history on The Sports Lunatics Show, a podcast, at thesportslunatics.com. Also, check out all their amazing content at thesportslunatics.com and listen to their show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio and Google Podcasts and at firedupnetwork.ca on 212 different platforms. Check out The Sports Lunatics Show on YouTube too! Please like and subscribe so others can find the shows more easily after you.

The Sports Lunatics Show can now be heard on Sundays at noon on CKDJ 107.9FM in Ottawa or online at ckdj.net .

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