Watson dies at 78, former NHL defenseman

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Bryan “Bugsy” Watson died Thursday. The former NHL defenseman was 78.

Watson played 877 NHL games for the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals in 16 seasons from 1963-79. He scored 152 points (17 goals, 135 assists) and had 2,214 penalty minutes.

Watson was the NHL all-time leader in penalty minutes when his career ended.

The Hockey News wrote that Watson, at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, “may be at the same time the best liked or least liked but the most admired player in the National Hockey League.”

“I remember when my cousin Craig [Patrick] got traded here during the season (in 1977),” Capitals president Dick Patrick told the Capitals website. “He was staying in one of those hotels out by the beltway in Prince George’s County, and he didn’t have a car when he first got here. And Bryan being the veteran guy he was, he took it upon himself to pick him up and take him to practice and help him get situated. That’s just the type of guy he was.”

Watson played 21 games with Cincinnati in the World Hockey Association in 1978-79 before retiring from professional hockey.

He coached Wayne Gretzky with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980-81, their second season in the NHL. He was 4-9-5 before being replaced by general manager Glen Sather.

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