TORONTO - There was never much of a doubt, but Bob Watson is going into the National Lacrosse League’s hall of fame.
The goaltender who led the Toronto Rock to a sixth Champion’s Cup this year in an 8-7 win over the Washington Stealth before retiring is widely considered the premier backstopper in the history of the league.
The NLL announced on Monday that Watson was the lone inductee this season, after being named on 86% of ballots cast by NLL governors, hall of fame members and media.
Watson, the league’s all-time saves leader was at his best on the biggest stage, twice winning championship game MVP. He also won NLL goaltender of the year twice (2001 and 2008) and led the Rock to two losing title game appearances.
“It’s a no brainer,” Rock Owner and President Jamie Dawick said in a release.
“In my opinion, he is the best goalie to ever play the game. He didn’t play for individual awards and I know he cherishes those six championship rings above everything else. There is no one more deserving.”
Watson broke into the league with Baltimore in 1996, joined the Ontario Raiders in 1998 and followed the franchise to Toronto a year later. The Rock won five championships in seven years from 1999-2005.
Rock head coach Troy Cordingley came up short in the hall vote, earning 46% of the 75% required. Former Rock defender Pat Coyle was named on 54% of the ballots.
Coincidentally, the Rock moved on Monday to acquire a new starter in net, trading defenceman Kyle Ross to the Stealth for Matt Roik.
“You’re not going to replace Bob Watson,” Rock general manager Terry Sanderson said.
“We lost a proven starter and we now have another proven starter in the fold.”
Roik was 6-1 for the 2010 champion Stealth but was supplanted by excellent young starter Tyler Richards.