Goodnight and Good Luck – Nicky WattPosted: 19/05/2013
Sunday may seem like an odd day to release some news but there was some with the announcement that Nicky Watt is not returning to Basingstoke for 2013/14.
What have we lost?
Nicky Watt is what he is; he’s not going to top the league in scoring, he’s not the finesse guy, he’s a gritty son of a gun who will do what needs to be done. He’s an agitator, he’s a grinder but he does possess decent hands and a decent bit of speed. Watt does get stereotyped as someone who just runs around trying to goad people into fighting or taking retaliatory penalties but his game is much more subtle than that. He can play top six minutes as a power forward, he can play on the third line grinding out plays, he’s a really good passer of the puck, he can play on special teams. It’s a real skill to make people think you do one thing when you can do much more than that. The Bison lose a versatile player with many strings to his bow.
Where has he gone?
After rumours swirled that he was to join brother Ryan at Slough, Nicky was announced today by the Peterborough Phantoms.
Who replaces him?
In some ways Aaron Connolly replaces Watt. Aaron is a player who can score, hit, fight, play skill or play gritty.
It never really came together for Nicky Watt on his return to Basingstoke. His play was always of a decent standard, can’t argue there but injuries kept him out or hindered him at times and ultimately the Bison ended the season without any silverware. The reuniting of his partnership with Jaroslav Cesky worked in some ways for both players but didn’t in others when they sort of got used as a grind and scoring line which worked to Watt’s advantage but not really Cesky’s for some reason.
When Watt joined from Swindon with just under half the season to go, many saw it as a sign that Doug Sheppard was looking for that last piece to push the Bison over the top to the title. He was seen as the last piece of a puzzle and perhaps his return to Hampshire was built up too much to the point that he’d never be able to fulfil what was expected of him. Injury and other factors went against the Bison as we all know but I think my opinion about Nicky Watt the player has changed. I don’t know Nicky Watt the man off the ice, I’m sure he’s a top bloke and from what I hear he’s a top quality juniors coach but my opinion of the on ice Nicky Watt has certainly been altered by his time in Basingstoke.
Nicky Watt knows what his game is. He puts the jersey on, does it with 100% effort whether fit or hurt and skates off at the end. When the team lacked spark, he tried to give it that spark be it a hit or a fight or what needed to be done. He took his role seriously and when he couldn’t play was on the bench barking out the orders. He’s a team guy, whoever he happens to be playing for. I will never confess to being his number one fan, I’m not going to rush out and buy a Nicky Watt jersey because he’s just not a player I would list in my favourites but I think I respect him more. The “analyst” in me saw his work rate, the fan in me saw that he cared. The two parts of me can’t ask for much more.
All the best, Nicky.