Francis Arthur Clarence "The Shawville Express" Finnigan - Born July 9, 1901 in Shawville, Quebec – Died December 25, 1991 in Shawville, Quebec was a Canadian ice Hockey right winger.
Legend has it that Finnigan received his first fee for playing Hockey when he was 13, playing for Quyon against Fitzroy Harbour, for which he received $10.
Finnigan first played senior-level Hockey for the University of Ottawa in the Ottawa City Hockey League / OCHL in 1921–22. He had just started grade nine, and according to Finnigan, he was paid to play for the University and did not have to submit any assignments. He still lived in Shawville at the time, he was given the nickname, ‘The Shawville Express,’ as he had to take the train to Ottawa for games.
Finnigan played two more seasons in the OCHL, with the Ottawa Collegiate and Ottawa Montagnards before joining the Ottawa Senators late in the 1923–24 season. Finnigan played only 2 games in his first season as well as 2 in the playoffs, where his team lost to the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup championship.
Finnigan played 29 games for Ottawa in the 1924-25 season, with no points. He scored his 1st NHL goal on March 8, 1926 vs Roy Worters of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Finnigan then scored 15 goals in 36 games during the 1926-27 season, and added 3 more in 6 playoff games helping Ottawa win the 1927 Stanley Cup championship against the Boston Bruins. Finnigan only played in game 4 of the finals, adding a goal in the series clinching 3 to 1 win. The 1927 Stanley Cup Final was originally intended to be a best-of-three series. After the first game was declared a draw, NHL President Calder ruled that the series would go no more than five games, with overtimes limited to 20 minutes. If the teams were tied after five games, the teams would share the championship. In the end, the series went four games because of two ties. These were the last ties in Stanley Cup history, notwithstanding the unfinished 3–3 Stanley Cup final match between Edmonton and Boston on May 24, 1988.
Finnigan later served as the Senators captain from 1930–1933, and scored a career high of 21 goals (15 assists) in the 1929–30 season. When the Senators suspended operations for the 1931–32 NHL season, Toronto's General Manager, Conn Smythe, stepped in and claimed Finnigan from Ottawa in the Dispersal Draft, September 26, 1931.
Finnigan, an eight-year veteran who played a reliable two-way game, gave the Maple Leafs a solid second line winger and an expert penalty killer. Finnigan played a key role in the Maple Leafs' 1932 Stanley Cup victory, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. 1 of his goals was scored in the final game.
Finnigan began his second tour of duty with the Senators the next year and spent the next two years there, and scored the final Senators franchise goal in the final NHL season that the Senators played in Ottawa. He scored an unassisted goal at the 1 minute, 7 second mark of the second period on March 15, 1934.
The following season, he moved with the other Senators players to play for the transferred franchise in St. Louis, Missouri known as the St. Louis Eagles in the 1934-35 season. He was sold by the Eagles to the Maple Leafs before the season's end in February 1935, and helped the Maple Leafs reach the 1935 Stanley Cup final
Finnigan played 2 more seasons with the Maple Leafs as a "defensive specialist, helping them reach the 1936 Stanley Cup finals.
When Finnigan retired from the NHL, he returned to Ottawa and played ice Hockey for various amateur teams, including the Ottawa RCAF Flyers and Toronto RCAF while he was in the Air Force during World War II.
He returned to his hometown once he finished with hockey and, in 1953, opened a hotel in Shawville called ‘Finnigan’s’, which his son, Frank Finnigan Jr, helped run. It closed in 1980.
When the NHL planned to expand in 1989, the consortium to obtain a franchise for Ottawa signed Finnigan to be part of the 'Bring Back The Senators' campaign team. Finnigan along with his son Frank Jr., made public appearances on behalf of the campaign. Finnigan was also part of the presentation team to the NHL expansion committee in December 1990. The group was successful and the new Ottawa Senators team began play in the 1992–93 NHL season.
Finnigan died before the new team would play its first game in 1992, for which he was scheduled to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Instead, on opening night the honour went to his son, Frank Jr. to drop the puck. On that night, the team honoured him by retiring his #8 jersey, making him one of three players in NHL history to have his uniform retired by a team for which he never actually played.
Finnigan's number was retired 58 years after he finished his NHL career - the longest wait for a player to have his number retired.
The street in front of the main entrance to the Ottawa Senators' arena - Canadian Tire Centre is named Frank Finnigan Way in his honour. A banner honouring his retired number hangs from the rafters also.
At the time of his death, Finnigan was the last surviving member of the Senators Stanley Cup-winning team from the 1926–1927 season, the final season of the 1919–27 Ottawa Senators dynasty and one of only a handful of players still alive from the NHL Senators days. He was also the oldest living NHL player and appeared at various NHL functions.
In an interview with Brian McFarlane in 1968, King Clancy had this to say about Frank Finnigan: "I'd label him as one of the finest right wingers in Hockey. He could dish out the punishment and take it, too, as he flew down his wing. He was another straightaway skater. You could put a string out there and Finnigan would skate right up and down that line".
Although he was small he was nearly impossible to knock off of his feet. He was strong as an ox, having worked as a telephone lineman in Ottawa prior to turning pro with the Senators. Compared by the book Ultimate Hockey to Mike Peca, Finnigan was an extraordinary defensive forward. Hall of Fame player and legendary coach Dick Irvin once commented that if he had a team full of Frank Finnigans, he'd never lose!