November 22, 2010

One Legend Returns; Another Retires

from staff reports

Bob Watson, 40, has signed a one-year contract to play for the Toronto Rock in 2011.

© Graig Abel

Bob Watson and Steve Dietrich are two of the most decorated goalkeepers in National Lacrosse League history. In separate announcements, the Toronto Rock has re-signed the 40-year-old Watson to play in 2011, while Dietrich has decided to retire and become an assistant coach for the Rock.

Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley often refers to Watson as the best money goaltender in the NLL and the good news for the Toronto Rock is there has been another deposit made in the bank for the 2011 season.

On Thursday, the five-time NLL Champion's Cup winner agreed to a one-year contract with the Rock pending league approval.

Affectionately known as "Whipper", Watson recently took on a new job becoming an officer with the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

"Once Bob knew he was able to commit 100 percent to playing by sorting out the issues with his new job we were able to come to an agreement," said an excited Rock GM Terry Sanderson.

"He's a security blanket back there for his teammates," explains Sanderson. "You want to have confidence in the guy in net behind you and Bob gives that confidence to his teammates."

Watson, a 14-year veteran, is one of the most decorated netminders in NLL history and has been the number one goalie in Toronto since day one of the franchise.

"I'm excited to get things done and build off of last year's success," said Watson. "After a couple of lean years in Toronto, this is an exciting and fun group to be around."

Not only does the 40-year old have five NLL championship rings in his trophy case, he also has two Goaltender of the Year Awards (2001 and 2008) and one Champion's Cup Game MVP (2003) to his credit.

Watson helped the Rock lower their team goals against by 62 in 2010. That's an average of 3.9 goals per game less than in 2009.

Another sign that Watson isn't slowing down is he surrendered a new franchise low of 3 goals against in a game against archrival Rochester on January 23, 2010.

Watson advanced to the Champion's Cup Final for the seventh time in his career with the Rock this past season.

"To get that close last year and not finish it off makes you want another shot," says Watson. "Right now, it's one year at a time with my career and I want to finish off what we started building again last year."

"We're in a better position to win a championship than if he wasn't there, and the reason we're here is to win a championship," says an emphatic Sanderson.

Watson also cited the support of his family and a number of teammates that helped him make things work and bring him back for another season.

"Colin Doyle and I have been roommates for a long time and he sent me a text message saying he's not ready to find a new roomie yet," joked Watson. "It's nice to have the support and know you're wanted."

Watson also mentioned his two children have been pretty excited since getting the news that their father was going to be back between the pipes this season. They have been working on some extra special lacrosse artwork at school that will be proudly displayed on the refrigerator door in the Watson kitchen.

Dietrich has decided to retire after 18 seasons as a goaltender in the National Lacrosse League. Dietrich has now moved into the role of goaltender coach for the 2011 season with the Toronto Rock.

Dietrich broke into the league with the Baltimore Thunder in 1992. "Chugger" went on to play with Detroit, Rochester, Buffalo, Edmonton and Calgary wrapping up his career with the Toronto Rock.

"A couple of months ago I started having doubts about whether or not I still had the passion to play and compete at the highest level," said Dietrich. "It was a very tough decision but I knew in my heart it was time to walk away."

Dietrich won the Champion's Cup with the Knighthawks in 1997 and was named the Most Valuable Player in the Championship game.

"Individual awards are nice but anyone will tell you they will trade those individual awards for a championship. Winning the title with Rochester in Buffalo in a very tough building to win in, especially as the underdog was the highlight of my pro career."

At 36-years of age in 2006, he turned in one of his best seasons ever capturing the NLL MVP award with the Buffalo Bandits. He was the first and only goalie to capture the NLL's top individual honour.

Dietrich is also a two-time winner of the NLL Goaltender of the Year Award taking home the hardware in both 2005 and 2006.

Dietrich joins the coaching staff of the Rock led by head coach Troy Cordingley. Cordingley's assistants are John Lovell, Matt Sawyer and GM Terry Sanderson.

"It's fun being around Troy. His passion and commitment is great to be around and I'm ready to just shut my mouth, watch and learn," said Dietrich.

"I've also played for a lot of owners in this league and Jamie Dawick is by far the best," said Dietrich. "I was willing to take advantage of any opportunity to remain with the organization."

The toughest part about retiring from the National Lacrosse League for Dietrich was telling his biggest fan, his dad Larry.

"I was worried about letting him down because he's been so supportive. He told me if he has to become the number one goalie coach fan, then that's what he'll do," said Dietrich with a smile.

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