After Bob Watson officially announced he would return to the National Lacrosse League next season, I'm sure the Toronto Rock breathed a sigh of relief. Watson is known as one of the best goaltenders of all time, playing mostly with the Ontario Raiders/Toronto Rock franchise. Let's take a look at his career, and what is to come for him and his Toronto Rock.
Watson was drafted by the Baltimore Thunder, where he played for one season was a goals against average over 17 in nine games. The next season he was drafted by the Ontario Raiders in the expansion draft. The Raiders played one season, 1998, where Watson played all 12 games with a GAA of 12.02.
The next season the Raiders moved to Toronto and played as the Toronto Rock, and Watson led the team to the Champions Cup in two consecutive seasons, including a dramatic win in their second championship, with Kaleb Toth scoring with one second on the clock.
The Rock once again went to the Championship in 2001, but were defeated by the Philadelphia Wings. Watson was goaltender of the year that season, with an 8.89 GAA in all 14 games. In 2002 the Rock won another championship, defeating the Albany Attack. The Rock won again the next year, this time over Rochester.
All these championships with Watson were no coincidence. Watson was considered the best goaltender in the league, and this dynasty stretch for Toronto may have put him in the best of all time discussion.
In 2004, the Rock lost in the conference championships, and did not go to the Champions Cup. Watson that season had a 11.14 GAA with a .775%.
In 2005, the Rock went to defeat the Arizona Sting in the championship in front of 19,432. Watson had another fabulous season.
Toronto took a step back in 2006, finishing 8-8 and being bumped in the first round. Watson had a GAA of 11.35. Before 2007, the Rock were looking to be a powerhouse again, trading for Colin Doyle and Ryan Benesch. However, the Rock struggled to a 6-10 record under Watson's 11.01 GAA.
Toronto had another losing season, but Watson was named goaltender of the year with a 10.26 GAA and .787S%.
Toronto missed the playoffs again in 2009, and Watson had his career worst since 1999 in GAA at 12.79. 2010 was a different story, as Toronto traded for Colin Doyle back from Washington, giving up Lewis Ratcliff. Toronto went on to play Ratcliff and the Stealth in the Champions Cup, but lost. Watson finished the year with a GAA of 9.31, but fell in the goaltender of the year race to Matt Vinc.
Watson returns again this season to a Rock team that still looks to compete. This could be Watson's last year, and that would be the end of a lacrosse legend and future NLL hall of famer.