The Ottawa Senators were first formed in 1883, two years after the foundation of the National Hockey League. The team was originally called the Ottawa Capitals but changed their name in 1892 when a competing team in the Eastern Canadian Professional Hockey League, the Senators, threatened to sue. The Ottawa Senators joined the NHL in 1917 as an expansion team.
The Ottawa Senators struggled in their early years, playing in the Eastern Canadian Professional Hockey League for most of the first decade of their NHL tenure. However, during the 1927-28 NHL season, the team finished first in the league, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time. In the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators faced the Montreal Canadiens, the defending Stanley Cup champions. The series ended in a five-game playoff series that the Canadiens won.
The Ottawa Senators would not make the playoffs again until the 1960-61 NHL season, their fourth season in the league. The team would make the playoffs every year until the 1985-86 NHL season; they were last in the league. The Ottawa Senators hosted the first NHL All-Star Game in 1947 and retired the number 6 (the jersey number of the founder and first team captain, Cyclone Taylor) in 1960.
The Ottawa Senators were renamed the Ottawa Senators of the NHL in 1992 in honor of the franchise’s original owner, Senator Mercer.