Goodnight and Good Luck – Ryan Watt

Another Tuesday announcement from the club but this time it was to reveal a departure from the Herd with the news that Ryan Watt will not ice for the Bison in 2016/17.

Ryan Watt will not be back for the Bison in 2016/17. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Ryan Watt will not be back for the Bison in 2016/17.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

Ryan Watt is actually really easy to characterise into one role (more on that in a bit) but actually when you sit down and think about what he did over the last season, he’s a bit of an every man. Watt played top line, second line, third line, second powerplay unit, penalty kill. He managed to really do a little bit of everything and, given how dismal by his standards 2014/15 was, he scored points. Did you know that Watt had 33 points last season? 10+23 for a Brit being looked to for secondary scoring isn’t that bad really. Proclamations about 20 goals and all that to one side, that’s 10 goals of his own and double that he helped create. Now make your own jokes about guys chiselling out assists or whether they were game winning goals or goals 6 and 7 of a 7-0 win but Watt’s versatility to play across the lines will mean he will land with another team even if the Bison are heading in another direction.

Where has he gone?

At the moment, it is unknown though I venture that Watt will be remaining in the EPL for the coming season. Some online have mentioned Hull to me which initially seems out of the question but Watt has been prepared to move for hockey before and I feel he would again.

Who replaces him?

Well, not Petr Polodna given the games they play. At the moment, nobody replaces Watt. We might get an answer to that on Season Ticket Night in the bar.

Final thoughts:

I’m really fortunate in a lot of ways with my watching of hockey. The logic goes that the longer that you watch something, the more you understand it but as some people will tell you from listening to shouts from the stands every week that doesn’t always happen and certainly not when it comes to the rules. Where I’ve been fortunate is that I’ve had people who understand this game better than me explain things to me and it’s stuff like this that allowed me to appreciate Ryan Watt over the years.

I’m not going to lie here; from a purely fan perspective Ryan Watt was not and will probably never be my favourite player. He is for some but as a fan, rose tinted spectacles on and all, I’ve just never been that drawn to him. I’m not sure why and that’s no slight on Ryan but he just wasn’t. A while ago when he played for Slough particularly I would get really frustrated watching him because I didn’t get the reasoning behind why he did some of the things he did.

Ryan went away to Braehead and unfortunately got that serious knee injury. Somewhere between that him coming back to the EPL with Slough and Swindon in that 2013/14 season, I think I must have had one of those moments I mentioned above where the hockey watcher in me started to get what Ryan Watt brings to sides. Now a chunk of this might be because Ryan was a bit older and a bit wiser, because he had reigned in some of his more boisterous elements of his hockey playing personality but I like to think more of that was because my eyes had been opened more to what he does.

Some people will say that Ryan Watt is a liability at times because he sees the red mist but so are all players when they see the red mist. The thing with Ryan Watt that I came to realise is that there’s very little wasted motion. I don’t mean that he won’t do something he shouldn’t or turn the wrong way but Ryan cares and Ryan wants to win hockey games. Sometimes that will mean using his really good stickhandling abilities. Sometimes that will be a subtle dig in the ribs to make that opposition forward know that he is being watched. Sometimes it will be taking that hit to allow someone else the space. For a man credited much more for his heart than his head, he uses his head a fair bit more than some of us give him credit for.

I don’t think Ryan Watt is suddenly about to break out and be next year’s EPL player of the year nor do I think he’s about to disappear off the face of the Earth. He’s a player that will be around hockey as much as he wants to be. Having had a season and a bit to really watch him, I’m not about to suddenly say I was on the verge of buying a #49 jersey before it was announced he was leaving. My position on Ryan Watt is the same that I generally have about all hockey players; I respect him for the job that he does on the ice. He’s now leaving the Bison, I will still respect the job that he does and wherever he ends up, someone will have a new favourite player.

All the best, Ryan wherever you end up.

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