Founded and established by Ottawa real estate developer Bruce Firestone, the team is the second NHL franchise to use the Ottawa Senators name. The original Ottawa Senators, founded in 1883, had a famed history, winning 11 Stanley Cups, playing in the NHL from 1917 until 1934. On December 6, 1990, after a two-year public campaign by Firestone, the NHL awarded a new franchise, which began play in the 1992–93 season.
The Senators have made sixteen playoff appearances, won four division titles, and won the 2003 Presidents' Trophy. They made an appearance in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, their only Cup Finals appearance to date.
Ottawa had been home to the original Senators, a founding NHL franchise and 11-time Stanley Cup champions. After the NHL expanded to the United States in the late 1920s, the original Senators' eventual financial losses forced the franchise to move to St. Louis in 1934 operating as the Eagles while a Senators senior amateur team took over the Senators' place in Ottawa. The NHL team was unsuccessful in St. Louis and planned to return to Ottawa, but the NHL decided instead to suspend the franchise and transfer the players to other NHL teams.
Fifty-four years later, after the NHL announced plans to expand, Ottawa real estate developer Bruce Firestone decided along with colleagues Cyril Leeder and Randy Sexton that Ottawa was now able to support an NHL franchise, and the group proceeded to put a bid together. His firm, Terrace Investments, did not have the liquid assets to finance the expansion fee and the team, but the group conceived a strategy to leverage a land development. In 1989, after finding a suitable site on farmland just west of Ottawa in Kanata on which to construct a new arena, Terrace announced its intention to win a franchise and launched a successful "Bring Back the Senators" campaign to both woo the public and persuade the NHL that the city could support an NHL franchise. Public support was high and the group would secure over 11,000 season ticket pledges. On December 12, 1990, the NHL approved a new franchise for Firestone's group, to start play in the 1992–93 season.