Jim & Joe Watson
While growing up in Smithers BC, Jim and Joe Watson used to watch week-old hockey games on television. The rest of the time they were playing hockey and enjoying the great outdoors. Joe was born nine years before brother Jim, but despite the age difference they found time to push one another and ultimately become better players because of the competition.
Jim recalls, “The thing I’d tell anyone is to work at it, but Joe was there for me when I needed help. I remember I had a hard time keeping up with Joe, but we rode bikes, swam, and skated together.”
Being the older brother, Joe was the first of the pair to be away from home playing hockey. He played his junior hockey in Saskatchewan and played his first NHL Game in 1966 with the Boston Bruins where he was Bobby Orr’s defensive partner. The following year Joe was selected high in the expansion draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He was described as a solid two-way player, a good puck handler and an accurate shooter not afraid to block a shot.
Jim was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1972 and his brother Joe was his agent. On this decision he said, “Considering I was a third-round draft pick he really didn’t do too badly.” Jim was described as a smooth puck-carrier with a hard, accurate shot who defensively was strong and smart.
Despite their age difference the brothers had similar hockey stories. Both played defense with a left-handed shot and were described as pure defensemen who would do anything to block a shot. Both players had great careers spanning considerable time in the NHL: Joe at fourteen years and Jim at ten years. The brothers both played for the Philadelphia Flyers for the majority of their hockey careers. Both scored 38 goals while Joe had 178 assists to Jim’s 148. The Watson brothers won two Stanley Cups (1973-74 and 1974-75), made it to the finals in 1976 and 1980, and were proud members of the only team to beat the Soviet Red Army team during their North American tour in 1976. Injuries also forced both brothers to retire from the game prematurely, but not without making significant contributions to the game of hockey and putting Smithers on the NHL map.