The Oshawa Generals are one of the oldest and most decorated franchises in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), and the oldest in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). In their 78-year history, the Generals have won the J. Ross Robertson Cup, which is awarded to the OHL Champions, a record of 13 times. In addition, they’ve been crowned Memorial Cup Champions five times; the most of any current active CHL team. The organization is also known for their ability to develop junior hockey players into professional players. To date, the Generals have over 180 graduates to the National Hockey League (NHL), which is just second to the Peterborough Petes.
The Oshawa Generals started out playing at the Hambly Arena, also known as the Oshawa Arena, from 1937 to 1953. They won three Memorial Cups during their time at the Hambly Arena, in 1939, 1940 and 1944. Following a devastating fire that burned the entire arena, the Generals were forced to relocate. They moved from playing in Bowmanville as a Senior B team, to relocating to Whitby to form the Whitby Dunlops, and then spent a season playing in Maple Leaf Gardens while the new arena was being built.
The Generals played< back in Bowmanville the season before the new arena was ready, which is when a young kid by the name of Bobby Orr joined the roster. Finally, after relocating multiple times, the Generals made the big move into their new home, the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, on December 15, 1964. The team called the Auditorium home for over 40 years before moving to their current facility, the General Motors Centre (GM Centre), which seats 6,000 and features two ice pads. The Generals played their first game at the GM Centre on November 6, 2006. For more details on the state-of-the-art facility,click here.
There have been many notable names to put on a Generals’ jersey over the years. Recognized players and an outstanding track record are what make this organization’s history strong.
With seven consecutive Ontario titles including three Memorial Cups, it’s fair to say the Generals dominated junior hockey in Ontario in the late 1930’s until the mid-1940’s. The legendary Billy Taylor, considered one of the greatest players during that era, was a member of those teams. Along with Taylor, players such as Floyd “Busher” Curry, Bill Ezinicki and Albert “Red” Tilson were also on the Generals’ roster during the early 40’s. Tilson is one of the more recognized names with his name now immortalized on the Red Tilson trophy, which is awarded to the OHL’s Most Valuable Player each year. Tilson was the league’s leading scorer in 1942-43 and died during combat in World War II. In November 2006, he became the first Generals player to have his number retired and lifted to the rafters at the General Motors Centre.
The next huge name to put on a Generals jersey is one of the hockey’s most elite and historic players – Bobby Orr. The Parry Sound native was recognized at the age of 14 and spent four seasons with the Generals from 1962-1966, which included leading his team to an OHL Championship in his final season. His explosive offensive style made him an instant sensation in Oshawa and he went on to have a successful NHL career with the Boston Bruins, becoming one of the greatest defensemen in hockey history. In four seasons as a General, he compiled 278 points in 194 games while playing most of that time against players several years older. In November 2008, the always humble Orr had his number retired at the GM Centre, to honour this great General.
In the 1970s, Generals fans had many NHL teams to cheer for as alumni including Rick Middleton, Lee Fogolin, Rick Lanz, Tom McCarthy, Dale Tallon, Rick St. Croix, and Greg Malone all played their junior careers in Oshawa.
The 1980s saw two OHL championship teams in Oshawa with teams that included NHLers like Tony Tanti, Dave Andreychuk, John MacLean, Mike Craig, Jeff Hackett, Joe Cirella, Jeff Daniels, and Jarrod Skalde. Local hero Scotty McCrory also won an MVP award here. In 1989, a young Eric Lindros entered his rookie year with the Generals, scoring 17 goals and 19 assists in just 25 games. With 18 goals and 18 assists in 17 playoffs, Lindros led the Generals to their fourth Memorial Cup Championship in 1990. Lindros’ number was retired in March of 2008 to recognize his impressive junior career and time with the Generals.
The next major hockey phenomenon to put on a Generals jersey was Marc Savard. He began his OHL career in the 1993-94 season and eventually guided the Gens to their 12th OHL Championship. With 413 (281 goals, 132 assists) in 238 games, Savard is one of the most memorable Gennies.
In 2005, the Oshawa Generals drafted 14-year-old John Tavares with the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection. Tavares is the first player to be grantedexceptional status in the OHL. In 2009, he broke the OHL record for the most individual goals with 215 in four seasons in the league. His number 91 was retired on Sunday, Sept. 28 in front of a sold-out crowd.
Over the last few years, the Generals have managed to be a competitive team in the Eastern Conference and East Division, while making the playoffs in 2010 through 2014. With 1997 being the last OHL Championship and 1990 being the last time the Memorial Cup came back to Oshawa, Gens staff, fans and players were eager for a big year. The Gens went unnoticed and overlooked for most of the 2014-15 season, despite their size and skill on the roster. The roster included veteran players like Cole Cassels, Hunter Smith, Josh Brown, and top prospects like Michael Dal Colle and Tobias Lindberg, combined with some big trades at the deadline with Mike McCarron, Dakota Mermis, Brent Pedersen and Matt Mistele. Coach DJ Smith instilled a defensive style of play that made it tough for other teams to compete against. Following their 13th OHL Championship win over the Erie Otters, the Generals competed in the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup where they won four straight games to be crowned champions for the fifth time in franchise history. For more on the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup win, here.
With five Memorial Cup Championships, 13 OHL Championships and a long list of NHL graduates and stars, the Oshawa Generals are one of junior hockey’s oldest and most prominent clubs.
The saying, “Once a General, always a General” is true and goes for every player who has ever been a part of this franchise.
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