Bob “Whipper” Watson

Bob Watson

Portrait by Robert Howson

Bob Watson is regarded as one of the best goaltenders to ever play professional indoor lacrosse. He started playing minor lacrosse in Guelph at the tender age of four and volunteered to be the goaltender right off the hop.

At age 16 he played Junior B with the Kitchener Braves where he won two Founders Cup national championships. After a three-year break he joined the Sr. A Brampton Excelsiors winning a Mann Cup in 2002.

His first crack at professional lacrosse came in 1996 when he joined the Baltimore Thunder of the National Lacrosse League; two years later the Ontario Raiders selected him where he played in Hamilton for the 1998 season.  In 1999 the franchise moved to Toronto and became the Rock.  During a stellar 15-year career Watson had a 104-59 record during the regular season and when the playoffs started he really began to dial things up.  In the postseason he had a 16-4 record; he played in eight championship games and won six of them.

“He’s simply the best big game goaltender we’ve ever seen in our league,” said former Rock head coach Troy Cordingley. “He was a tremendous presence in our dressing room and he was a great teammate. In a one-game winner take all situation, I want Bob Watson playing goal for me every time.”

Not only did he win six championships with the Toronto Rock, he was named Most Valuable Player twice – in 2003 and again in 2011.  He retired immediately after that glorious accomplishment in 2011 as the National Lacrosse League’s all-time saves leader.

“That moment was like a Hollywood script,” remembers Watson. “Another great memory was when we won the last professional event ever held at Maple Leaf Gardens.  I grew up a Maple Leaf fan and we scored with one second left to beat Rochester 14-13 in that historic building.”

In 2011, Watson became only the third goaltender elected to the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – on June 18, 2014