The series continues today with a look at the #8. Do you remember anyone wearing #8 for the Sens? Have you ever noticed the banner hanging from the rafters of Scotiabank place bearing the #8? When Daniel Alfredsson eventually retires, his #11 will join Frank Finnigan's #8 as the only numbers retired by the Ottawa Senators.
Born Francis Arthur Clarence "Frank" Finnigan, he played in the NHL from 1923 to 1937 and was the last surviving member of the 1927 Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup-winning team. Known as "The Shawville Express," Finnigan was born in nearby Shawville in 1903 (he was also known as "The Slumbering Romeo"). Finnigan began his senior career playing for the University of Ottawa in the Ottawa City Hockey League and played for several teams in the OCHL before making the move to the Senators for the 1923-24 season.
Finnigan's time in Ottawa was interrupted by the Senators' financial troubles. When the club suspended operations for the entirety of the 1931-32 NHL campaign, Finnigan played for the Maple Leafs, winning his second Cup, before returning to Ottawa for the 1932-33 season. When the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1934 and changed its name to the Eagles, Finnigan followed. He was sold to the Maple Leafs in February of 1935, and played 2 more seasons before retiring.
33 players and club members from the original Ottawa Senators are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Finnigan is not one of them. His stats with the Senators were good, if unspectacular. As a member of the NHL's first dynasty, Finnigan had trouble cracking the lineup in his first few seasons with the Senators and was used primarily as a substitute (used only in case of injury). When he finally broke through during the 1926-27 season he scored 3 goals in 6 playoff games, in addition to 15 goals in 36 games in the regular season. Finnigan scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the finals and scored a goal in the clinching game against Boston. Described as a reliable, two-way winger and expert penalty-killer, Finnigan served as the Senators captain from 1930-1933. Finnigan holds the dubious honour of having scored the last goal in the history of the original Senators, in the second period of a game on March 15, 1934.
Finnigan joined the RCAF during World War II and served for 7 years. In addition to war-time service, Finnigan spent his post-playing days in a variety of occupations, including managing and owning hotels and working in sales at a brewery, before finally retiring to the Shawville area.
Why was Finnigan honoured out of all legendary original Ottawa Senators by the modern club? Finnigan is one of the few ties between the two organizations. He joined the "Bring Back the Senators" campaign team in 1989, making public appearances for the organization, and was part of the team which pitched the Senators to the NHL expansion committee in December of 1990. He was scheduled to drop the first puck on opening night, but died on Christmas Day, 1991. Instead, his son dropped the puck and Finnigan's number was retired as part of the first-game ceremonies.