Harold Percival "Whipper" Watson - Born May 6, 1923 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Died November 19, 2002 in Toronto, Ontario was a Canadian professional ice Hockey left winger.
Watson acquired his nickname for the hard release of his wrist shot "Whipper".
Watson played all his minor & junior Hockey in Saskatoon, first with the Saskatoon Wesleys (minor), then the Saskatoon Jr. Chiefs in 1938, then the Saskatoon Chiefs & Saskatoon Dodgers during the 1939-40 season.
Watson joined the Saskatoon Jr. Quakers for the 1940-41 season, having a outstanding playoff run with the team. Watson scored 17 goals in 16 games, where the Quakers made it to the Western Canada Finals, losing the Abbott Cup final to the Winnipeg Rangers in 7 games.
Watson then turned professional in 1941 with the NHL Brooklyn Americans in what would be the team's final season, Watson scored 10 goals, 8 assists during his rookie year.
Watson was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in an intraleague draft and played there during the 1942–43 season, and was an instant hit. In his first year there his 13 goals helped the Red Wings finish first overall in the regular season. In the playoffs he was dominant as the Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins in four straight games to win the 1943 Stanley Cup championship.
Like many other NHL players, Watson spent 2 years serving the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. While in the Air Force, he played for the Montreal RCAF team in 1943–44, as well as for the Saskatoon Navy team, helping the Saskatoon Navy win the 1944 Western Command Senior Hockey Championships. The following season (1944-45), Watson played for the Winnipeg RCAF team.
After a two-year break from the NHL, Watson rejoined the Red Wings after the war for one season and was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on September 21, 1946, for Billy Taylor. A trade Watson later said was one of the highlights of his career. No wonder, in Toronto he quickly teamed up with centre Syl Apps and tough guy Bill Ezinicki to form a scoring trio feared around the league. This troika helped the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup championship (1947, 1948, 1949, 1951) four times during Watson's nine seasons at Maple Leaf Gardens, giving him a total of five Cup wins in his career. In 1948–49, he led the Maple Leafs in points and goals, with 26 goals and 19 assists in 60 games. He didn't take a single penalty through the entire regular season, also scored the eventual Stanley Cup-winning goal that year en route to a 4-0 victory of his old team, the Red Wings.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans also remember Watson as the one who assisted on Bill Barilko's legendary overtime Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1951 against goalie Gerry McNeil of Montreal.
After the first eight games of the 1954-55 season, Conn Smythe sold Watson to the Chicago Black Hawks for cash. He played three seasons with the Black Hawks before finishing his NHL career in 1957.
Watson played one more year as a professional, as player-coach of the Buffalo Bisons in the American Hockey League, before retiring in 1958.
Watson played played 809 regular NHL games in his career, scoring 236 goals, 207 assists, and 62 NHL playoff games, scoring 16 goals and 9 assists, and won five Stanley Cups.
Watson also played in seven NHL All-Star games, usually as a member of the Stanley Cup-winning team.
Following his retirement from the Bisons, Watson jumped full-time into coaching with the St. Catharines TeePees - a farm team for the Black Hawks - in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A league. He coached several other minor teams as well.
Watson coached the senior Windsor Bulldogs to the OHA Senior A League Championship, the Eastern Canadian Championship, and the Allan Cup championship in 1963, which remains the only national Hockey title ever captured by a local team on Windsor Arena ice. That championship was a moment that unified a city, brought cultures together to share in a common goal.
Harry Watson was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1986
Harold “Harry” Watson was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
Harry Percival Watson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1994.