His outstanding career with the Toronto Rock ended last May when he retired after winning a sixth Championship, but another honor was awaiting Bob Watson.
The former goaltender was inducted into the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Hall of Fame front of his family, friends and fans in Toronto on Tuesday.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s an honour and privilege to be included in that group of elite players,” said Watson during the ceremony. “To be with former teammates Jim Veltman and Dan Stroup, it’s a real honour.”
In addition to Watson’s speech, his longtime teammate and Rock’s captain Colin Doyle took a few minutes to express his thoughts followed by the unveiling of Watson’s Hall of Fame plaque, and a video tribute.
“I have six rings on my fingers in great part to you,” said Doyle. “The things you did for me, I’m going to take those with me and pass them on to the younger players.”
For the Rock’s coach Troy Cordingley, it isn’t surprising at all that Watson won induction in his first year of eligibility.
“All the greatest of the greats should get in right away. Bob is the greatest goalie of all time in our league,” said Cordingley in an interview with the Toronto Observer prior to the ceremony.
“It is like Wayne Gretzky getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame right away,” he said.
The statistics speak for themselves.
Watson, who is an officer at the Waterloo Region Police, is only the second to win 100 games and finishing with a 104-62 regular season record.
His 6,471 saves over a 15-year career are the most in the NLL’s 25-year history, and he has won the goaltender of the year award twice.
His playoffs record is also impressive: 16-4 in the 2011 post-season including 6-2 in the finals.
However, Watson is not only admired for his exploits, but also qualities as an individual.
“Bob always put the team first, he wanted the team to be successful first and foremost, and the way he carried himself on and off the floor proved that,” said Cordingley.
“I always went to him to seek his opinion on certain team matters. He was always honest and straight forward. It was an absolute honor [to coach Watson], and I learned an awful lot from him,” he said.
He’s the kind of guy that never took anything for granted, and came every year to earn a spot on the team as well as study the game.
“Simply put, he’s the best in the business,” said Cordingley.
Born, raised and still living in Guelph, Watson began his career in Baltimore and joined the Ontario Raiders in 1998 before the team moved to Toronto the following year.
Watson wanted to hang up his stick after the 2010 season, but having lost to the Washington Stealth in the championship game, he decided he wanted one more shot.
It was obviously the best decision.