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Bryan Watson (ice hockey)

Bryan Watson
Born (1942-11-14) November 14, 1942
Bancroft, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Right
Played for NHL
Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings
Oakland Seals
Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Louis Blues
Washington Capitals
Cincinnati Stingers
Quebec Aces
Cleveland Barons
Baltimore Clippers
Playing career 1963–1979

Bryan Joseph Watson (born November 14, 1942) is a retired Canadian ice hockey defenceman. He played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and the Cincinnati Stingers of the World Hockey Association. Watson also served as head coach and an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers during the 1980-81 NHL season.


  • Playing career 1
    • Montreal Canadiens (1963-65) 1.1
    • Detroit Red Wings (1965-67) 1.2
    • Montreal Canadiens (1967-68) 1.3
    • Oakland Seals and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1968-74) 1.4
    • Detroit Red Wings (1974-76) 1.5
    • Washington Capitals (1976-79) 1.6
  • Coaching career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Awards and achievements 4
  • Career statistics 5
    • Regular season and playoffs 5.1
  • Transactions 6
  • Coaching record 7
  • See also 8
  • External links 9

Playing career

Montreal Canadiens (1963-65)

Watson worked his way up through the Montreal Canadiens system starting his junior hockey career with head coach Scotty Bowman and the Peterborough Petes. He would eventually become team captain of the Petes and would be named the team's MVP in his final junior campaign. Watson continued and signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens, making his NHL debut in the 1963-64 NHL season. He would play just over half the season in his rookie year appearing in 39 games with the big club and playing 6 more games in an opening round series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In Watson's sophomore season he only appeared in 5 games with Montreal, spending the bulk of the season with the AHL's Quebec Aces where head coach Bernie Geoffrion paired the 21-year-old blueliner with 39-year-old veteran Doug Harvey.

Detroit Red Wings (1965-67)

Watson left the province of Québec when the Canadiens traded him to the Chicago Black Hawks on June 8, 1965. Watson was the property of the Blackhawks for one day before the Detroit Red Wings selected him in the intra-league draft on June 9, 1965. In 1965-66, in his first year with the Red Wings he didn't miss a game, dressing for all 70 regular season contests. A season in which he scored his first NHL goal and led the team in penalty minutes. He would also appear in all 12 playoff games for Detroit, scoring the only 2 post-season markers of his career and helping the Red Wings advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against his former team the Montreal Canadiens. In 1966-67 Watson split his time between the Red Wings and Detroit's farm team in the CPHL, the Memphis Wings.

Montreal Canadiens (1967-68)

Original Six era officially came to an end at the start of the 1967-68 season as Clarence Campbell and the league, who had awarded new NHL franchises to six American cities, made their inaugural appearances that year. With six new teams, the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars. Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St, Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings needing players, the NHL held an expansion draft in Montreal, Quebec. The draft would see the six new teams filling their rosters by picking from a specified pool of players who the original six teams made available to be selected. As a result, Watson was left unprotected by the Detroit Red Wings and Wren Blair and the Minnesota North Stars selected him with their 15th pick in the draft. That same day Blair shipped Watson back to Montreal by making a four player deal with Sam Pollock, with the Canadiens shipping three young prospects, Billy Plager, Leo Thiffault and Barrie Meissner to Minnesota in return. Back in Montreal for the second time, Watson would only appear in a dozen games with the Canadiens in 1967-68, registering just 1 assist and 9 penalty minutes. He found himself back in the minors playing a handful of games for the Cleveland Barons in the AHL and the bulk of the year in the CPHL for the Houston Apollos, with his second stint coming to an end at the conclusion of the 1967-68 season.

Oakland Seals and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1968-74)

During the summer, at the end of the 1967-68 season, Watson became the property of his second expansion team in just over a year when he was dealt by Sam Pollock to the Oakland Seals on June 28, 1968 for Tom Thurlby and a 1st round draft pick in 1972. After playing the first 50 games for the Seals in the 1968-69 season Watson was on the move yet again, becoming the property of his third expansion team in a year and a half. Oakland general manager Frank Selke, Jr. orchestrated a six player swap with the Pittsburgh Penguins that included Watson going the other way. With the move to Pittsburgh, he would find his first semi-permanent home, spending parts of the next 6 seasons in Steeltown. Watson would have the best offensive season of his career as a Penguin, scoring a career high in goals (3) and points (20) in 1971-72. He would follow that up by leading the Penguins in penalty minutes in 3 of his 4 full seasons with the club, finishing second behind fellow pugilist and namesake Bryan Hextall's 133 PIM in 1970-71. It was in Pittsburgh where Watson would just barely serve his longest tenure with one team in the NHL, donning the baby blue and white jersey of the Penguins for 304 of the 878 games he would play in the National Hockey League (302 with Detroit).

Detroit Red Wings (1974-76)

In 1973-74, after starting the season in Pittsburgh and a very brief 11 game stop with the St. Louis Blues, Watson found himself back in Detroit for the second time in his career. In his second season back with the Red Wings he would record a career high 322 penalty minutes in 1975-76, posting the second highest total in the league behind Steve Durbano's 370 PIM. His second go-round with the Red Wings would be his second to last stop in the NHL.

Washington Capitals (1976-79)

Watson joined the Washington Capitals a few weeks into the 1976-77 regular season when he was traded for Greg Joly, a former highly touted junior prospect who was drafted 1st overall by the Capitals in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft from the Regina Pats of the WHL. Over the course of the next three seasons in the nation's capital, he would play 155 games and rack up another 294 minutes in penalties as a Capital. After appearing in 20 games with the Capitals in 1978-79, Watson left the NHL to join the Cincinnati Stingers of the fledgling World Hockey Association where he would end his professional career as a player, playing out the remainder of the season with the Ohio based franchise.

In 878 career NHL games, Watson scored 17 goals, 135 assists, and amassed 2,212 penalty minutes.

Coaching career

Watson's only season and final season as a player in the WHA would also be the last season of operation for the league as a whole. By season's end, with the WHA reduced to only 6 teams in 1978-79, the league ceased to operate at the end of the year. Four teams from that league merged into the NHL for the start of the 1979-80 NHL season. The Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques and the Edmonton Oilers, with head coach Glen Sather, all made their NHL debut's that year. The Oilers, with phenom Wayne Gretzky and 18-year-old Mark Messier, qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs their first season in the NHL. After being swept by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington promoted head coach Glen Sather and named him the team's new President and General Manager. In 1980-81, with the Oilers in need of a new bench boss, Watson got the nod and was named head coach of the Edmonton Oilers to start the franchise's second season in the NHL. However, after the Oilers posted a record of 4 wins, 9 losses and 5 ties to start the season Sather decided to go back behind the bench, with Watson remaining on as an assistant with Billy Harris. The Oilers went on and qualified for the playoffs for the second straight season, sweeping the heavily favoured Montreal Canadiens in the first round three games to none. The Oilers lost their best-of-seven series against the New York Islanders in the second round, which also brought an end to Watson's association with professional hockey as he would not return behind the Oilers bench the following year. Watson retired from hockey and returned to the Washington D.C area where he finished his NHL playing career and where he still resides today.

Personal life

In 1983, Watson and his wife Lindy opened "Bugsy's Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar" in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Sold it two years ago according to the workers in the restaurant.

Awards and achievements

  • 1964-65 - Stanley Cup Champion - Montreal Canadiens.
  • 1967-68 - CPHL Most Valuable Player - Houston Apollos
  • 1967-68 - CPHL Most Valuable Defenceman - Houston Apollos
  • 1967-68 - CPHL First Team All-Star - Houston Apollos

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1963-64 Montreal Canadiens NHL 39 0 2 2 18 6 0 0 0 2
1963-64 Omaha Knights CPHL 9 1 1 2 12 - - - - -
1964-65 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5 0 1 1 7 - - - - -
1964-65 Quebec Aces AHL 64 1 16 17 186 5 0 0 0 35
1965-66 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 2 7 9 133 12 2 0 2 30
1966-67 Detroit Red Wings NHL 48 0 1 1 66 - - - - -
1966-67 Memphis Wings CPHL 16 1 3 4 76 - - - - -
1967-68 Montreal Canadiens NHL 12 0 1 1 9 - - - - -
1967-68 Cleveland Barons AHL 12 2 4 6 22 - - - - -
1967-68 Houston Apollos CPHL 50 2 37 39 293 - - - - -
1968-69 Oakland Seals NHL 50 2 3 5 97 - - - - -
1968-69 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 18 0 4 4 35 - - - - -
1969-70 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 61 1 9 10 189 10 0 0 0 17
1969-70 Baltimore Clippers AHL 5 1 2 3 8 - - - - -
1970-71 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 43 2 6 8 119 - - - - -
1971-72 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 75 3 17 20 212 4 0 0 0 21
1972-73 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 69 1 17 18 179 - - - - -
1973-74 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 38 1 4 5 137 - - - - -
1973-74 St. Louis Blues NHL 11 0 1 1 19 - - - - -
1973-74 Detroit Red Wings NHL 21 0 4 4 99 - - - - -
1974-75 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 1 13 14 238 - - - - -
1975-76 Detroit Red Wings NHL 79 0 18 18 322 - - - - -
1976-77 Detroit Red Wings NHL 14 0 1 1 39 - - - - -
1976-77 Washington Capitals NHL 56 1 14 15 91 - - - - -
1977-78 Washington Capitals NHL 79 3 11 14 167 - - - - -
1978-79 Washington Capitals NHL 20 0 1 1 36 - - - - -
1978-79 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 21 0 2 2 56 3 0 1 1 2
NHL totals 878 17 135 152 2212 32 2 0 2 70


  • Traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the Chicago Blackhawks for Don Johns, June 8, 1965.
  • Claimed from the Chicago Blackhawks by the Detroit Red Wings in Intra-League Draft, June 9, 1965.
  • Claimed from the Detroit Red Wings by the Minnesota North Stars in NHL Expansion Draft, June 6, 1967.
  • Traded by the Minnesota North Stars to the Montreal Canadiens for Bill Plager, Leo Thiffault and Barrie Meissner, June 6, 1967.
  • Traded by the Montreal Canadiens with cash to the Oakland Seals for a 1st round choice in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft (Michel Larocque) and future considerations (Tom Thurlby), June 28, 1968.
  • Traded by the Oakland Seals with Tracy Pratt to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Earl Ingarfield, Gene Ubriaco and Dick Mattiussi, January 30, 1969.
  • Drafted by the Los Angeles Sharks in the 1972 WHA General Player Draft, February 12, 1972.
  • Traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins with Greg Polis and a 2nd round choice in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft (Bob Hess) to the St. Louis Blues for Steve Durbano, Ab DeMarco and Bob Kelly, January 17, 1974.
  • Traded by the St. Louis Blues with Chris Evans and Jean Hamel to the Detroit Red Wings for Ted Harris, Bill Collins and Garnet Bailey, February 14, 1974.
  • Traded by the Detroit Red Wings to the Washington Capitals for Greg Joly, November 30, 1976.
  • Signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Stingers, March 2, 1979.
  • Claimed from the Cincinnati Stingers by the Edmonton Oilers in the WHA Dispersal Draft, June 9, 1979.

Coaching record

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
EDM 1980-81 18 4 9 5 (13) 4th in Smythe (demoted to assistant)

See also

External links

  • Bryan Watson's career statistics at
  • Bryan Watson's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
  • Bryan Watson's biography at Legends of Hockey
  • Picture of Bryan Watson's Name on the 1965 Stanley Cup Plaque
Preceded by
Art Stratton
CPHL Leading Scorer
Succeeded by
Jim Lorentz
Preceded by
Art Stratton
CPHL Most Valuable Player Award
Succeeded by
Jim Lorentz
Preceded by
Glen Sather
Head coach of the Edmonton Oilers
Succeeded by
Glen Sather
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