Joe Watson was born in Smithers and played hockey as soon as he could walk and with the winters lasting up to half a year he had plenty of time to play hockey. Joe grew up with five brothers, among them his younger brother Jimmy, who later played in the NHL alongside Joe in Philadelphia.
Joe moved up through the amateur ranks and graduated from the Estevan Bruins and signed with the Boston Bruins with his rookie year coming in 1966. Boston was however stacked with fine defensemen, one of them was of course a rookie named Bobby Orr.
Joe was exposed in the 1967 expansion draft and got picked by Philadelphia and became a fixture on defense for the Flyers for the next 11 seasons. Joe was an integral part of the two Stanley Cups that Philadelphia won in 1974 and 1975. His steady play earned him trips to the 1974 and 1977 All-Star games. Joe's fine defensive play gave him a +191 rating during his Philadelphia career, and +178 overall.
Even though Joe left the Bruins after his rookie season, he remained close friends with Bobby Orr. Watson and Orr shared a special friendship. Before leaving Boston, they shared 5 bedroom house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean," recalled Watson. "He did the cleaning and cooking and really was a great cook. Bobby had so much energy that he did most of the work. About all I did was wash the dishes and water the plants." Interestingly, when the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1974, it came at the expense of the Boston Bruins.
“We weren’t the most talented team, but we had a lot of great players, we believed in ourselves and we hated to lose,” says Watson. “Freddie was a great coach for us and the guys in the room kept each other honest. Slack off and someone would let you know about it right away.”
Alluding to the team’s boisterous locker room filled with colorful characters, Joe says, “We were a team that liked to go out for a few babalooeys [beers] and have a good time and this and that. But we took the game very serious, so everyone had to be ready to play.”
A rock-steady influence on the ice, Joe also earned the admiration of his teammates off the ice, but for a completely different reason. One of his greatest contributions to the teams was his contagious enthusiasm, on the ice, on the bench and in the dressing room. "Joe makes the team because he always breaks us up by being himself," wrote former Flyer' goaltender Bernie Parent.
No one took the pursuit of the Stanley Cup more seriously than Joe. “You could hear Joe from across the building. He’d usually encourage you, but he’d get on you if he had to,” said ex-teammate Bob “The Hound” Kelly in 2003. “Between Joe and Crispy [Terry Crisp], it was never, ever quiet in the room or the bench.”
Joe finished his NHL career with 216 points (38 goals and 178 assists) in 835 regular season games as well as 15 pts (3 goals and 12 assists) in 84 playoff games. He gave hockey fans a solid performance for 16 NHL seasons. Joe, at 68 years old, played in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Team. The outdoor game attracted over 45,000 wild fans to the Philadelphia Phillies ball park who didn’t leave disappointed. The Flyers beat the Rangers 3 to 1 in a game that featured 6 NHL hockey hall of famers including Bernie Parent, Bobby Clarke, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch.