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September 15, 2015

NHL Centennial To Be Celebrated On Parliament Hill?

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson let it slip that the National Hockey League is eyeing up the possibility of having an outdoor game in Ottawa on December 19th, 2017.

That would be the exact 100th anniversary of the first game ever in NHL history.

On that night the visiting Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 7 to 4. The Habs great goal scorer Joe Malone scored five goals (and added an assist). He scored the first goal in Montreal Canadiens NHL history (remember, the Montreal Canadiens pre-date the NHL) and score the first hat trick in NHL history.

The game was played at The Arena, also known as Dey's Arena, home of the Senators from 1909 through 1923. The reported attendance for the game was 6,000, though normal seating capacity was 4,500.

Also playing that night were the soon-to-be defunct Montreal Wanderers who downed the visiting Toronto Arenas 10-9 in Montreal. Wanderers' defenseman Dave Ritchie scored the first goal in NHL history. Montreal's Harry Hyland (5 goals) and Toronto's Reg Noble (4 goals) equaled Malone's first night hat trick. Only 700 fans were in attendance to witness it.

While the NHL is undoubtedly looking at TD Place, home of the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Redblacks. The seating capacity there for football is just 24,000 people. They may also consider some sort of temporary structure on the popular LeBreton Flats festival land.

But Mayor Watson wants the NHL to consider playing the game on the lawn of Parliament Hill. Obviously seating would be greatly restricted, and without ticket sales the NHL is unlikely to entertain the idea seriously. After all, perhaps more people attended in 1917 than could in 2017.

The original Arena site was nearby, but is now the site of Ottawa's popular Byward Market area.

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