If you’ve taken in an Ottawa Senators game at Canadian Tire Centre (Scotiabank Place etc.) you have probably noticed a banner with ‘8’ on it, hanging above the scoreboard. The number belonged to Frank Finnigan who was known as ‘The Shawville Express’ within the NHL. It was a number the Senators organization retired during their opening night in 1992.
“It was very nice and quite the-do” said Frank Finnigan, Jr. He dropped the ceremonial puck for the game that took place at the Civic Centre, for his father. Frank Sr. campaigned for the return of the present-day Ottawa Senators, which of course, became a reality. Unfortunately, he never got the opportunity to see them play a game. Frank Finnigan, Sr. passed away on Christmas Day 1991.
Finnigan was born on July 9, 1901 and raised in Shawville, Quebec. A couple of his first jobs were at W.A Hodgins and the brickyard and Pontiac Rural, a local telephone company. He joined the Ottawa Senators in 1924. In 1927 the Senators, with a team of 11 players, took on the Boston Bruins in a best-of-five series. The home games were packed – up to 9,000 people – and the standing room tickets cost a whopping 25 cents. It was then Finnigan won his first Stanley Cup. At the time of his passing in 1991, Finnigan was the last surviving member of the 1927 team.
He spent 14 seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he won his second Stanley Cup and the St. Louis Eagles before retiring. Finnigan tallied 555 regular season games, 116 goals, 88 assists and 39 playoff games.
“He was a good guy, who was pretty strict but was fair,” said Frank, reminiscing about father.
In Shawville, Frank Sr. became an owner of a hotel in 1953 and you guessed it, the business was called Finnigan’s. “It didn’t have dances or anything, it was just tavern and a pretty popular place.”
Shawville unveiled a Hockey Wall of Fame in the summer of 2012 at the arena, which, ‘The Shawville Express’ helped officially open in 1967. Finnigan was among the first 14 inductees to the Wall, which also included current Senators GM, Bryan Murray.
The legend of the man, also lives on in the street name found in town.