Toronto – The Toronto Rock will raise Hall-of-Fame goaltender Bob Watson’s number 29 to the rafters at Air Canada Centre on Friday, February 24th then the Rock host the Rochester Knighthawks. The retirement of Watson’s number is the first to be retired by the franchise in its 13-year existence in Toronto.
Watson was a first ballot selection to the NLL Hall of Fame this summer with the induction ceremony taking place just a couple of months ago here in Toronto. Watson wrapped up his storied playing career in May of 2011 by leading the Rock to an NLL record tying sixth Champion’s Cup victory. Watson just happened to be Toronto’s starting goaltender for all six titles, earning two Champion’s Cup Game MVP nods in the process.
“I’m honoured to be able to retire the number with the Rock and it’s fitting, he’s been with the Rock since Day 1, and he’s been there every step along the way. His loyalty to the franchise and his teammates has been unwavering and he embodies everything it is to be a member of the Toronto Rock,” explained Rock Owner and President Jamie Dawick. “The retirement of a players number is not something we’re going to throw around lightly and number 29 is the best place to start. This cements his legacy with the franchise.”
Anyone who has ever had a conversation with Watson knows he’s a team first guy and his reaction to the news was no different.
“It’s an honour, considering the players that came before me,” said a humbled Watson. “It’s something I never expected, I’m thrilled and honoured and definitely looking forward to the night.”
The all-time great has been flooded with accolades over the past year and it’s offered many chances to reflect on the past.
“There’s been a lot of time spent looking back at the past,” said Watson. “Realizing the things that have been accomplished with the Rock. I’m proud of my career and honoured to have played with the teammates I’ve had and being a part of a dynasty in Toronto.”
Watson’s family is also very excited and looking forward with great pride in anticipation of the historic evening.
“My kids are more thrilled than anything,” said the all-time NLL career saves leader. “My son Dylan has requested, however, that the number be unretired when he plays for the Rock one day.”
The opponent on this special evening seems rather fitting that it’s Rochester. Many lacrosse observers would cite the 2003 NLL finals win over the Knighthawks as perhaps the clutch performance of Watson’s career.
“There’s a lot of great memories of the games against Rochester over the years,” remarked Watson. “There were so many pivotal games against them and the win in Rochester in 2003 was special for many reasons. It was the first time we ever won anything in their building and we didn’t know it then, but it was our last championship with Les Bartley as our coach.”
The season will kick off with another banner raising as the Rock will hoist the 2011 NLL Championship Banner to the roof on Sunday, January 8th against the Calgary Roughnecks. That same evening, Ontario Lacrosse Association championship teams will also be recognized for their accomplishments during the summer of 2011.
The Rock will also host its annual charity game this season. This year’s game will take place on Friday, March 9th when the Rock play host to the Philadelphia Wings. This year’s charity game will benefit the Canadian Military and will again feature several different ways fans can donate to the chosen cause. More details on this year’s Toronto Rock charity game will be announced in the near future.
Other significant nights on the Rock schedule include “Girls Night Out” on Saturday, February 18th against Philadelphia, Toronto Sun Autograph Night on Friday, March 16th with Buffalo in town as well as Kidz Night wrapping up the regular season home schedule when Edmonton visits on Saturday, April 7th.
Season Tickets, Flex Packs, Single-Game and Group Tickets are on sale now. For more information on a 2012 Toronto Rock ticket package that is right for you, please call 416-596-3075 to speak with a ticket representative.