Former Capitals defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away on Thursday at the age of 78.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, whom Watson spent six seasons with, announced the news on their Twitter but did not release a cause of death.
The Penguins offer our deepest condolences to the family of Bryan 'Bugsy' Watson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 78.
Watson played for the Penguins for the better part of six seasons from 1968-1974. pic.twitter.com/nbBnj73nEh
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 9, 2021
The Washington Capitals released a statement hours later on Twitter. “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Bryan ‘Bugsy’ Watson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 78. Bugsy played 155 games for the Caps between 1976-79 and had a profound impact on the organization and city. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Bryan “Bugsy” Watson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 78.
Bugsy played 155 games for the Caps between 1976-79 and had a profound impact on the organization and city.
We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/Sen7CMzKV0
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 9, 2021
Watson began his career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1963. During his second season in the NHL, Watson became a Stanley Cup champion as a member of the 1964-65 Habs. Watson’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup.
For the next three years, Watson bounced around and played for three different NHL teams, two AHL teams, and one CPHL club. Watson later found stability with the Penguins beginning in the 1968–69 season and spent six years in the Burgh. He posted 65 points (8g, 57a) in 303 games. Bugsy was never afraid to throw the body or mix it up, once dropping his gloves with Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr and Chris Jerico’s father Ted Irivine.
Watson would have stints in St. Louis and Detroit before ending his NHL career in Washington, posting 30 points (4g, 26a) in 155 games for the Capitals from 1976 through 1980.
Watson’s 2,214 penalty minutes ranks the 42nd most in NHL history.
After concluding his hockey career, Watson, in 1983, opened a pizzeria in Alexandria which would later become known as Bugsy’s (Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Bugsy’s Sports Bar Upstairs). The pizzeria was adorned with framed jerseys and photos from earlier in his career including game-used sticks from Wayne Gretzky and Orr.
“Beyond the three seasons he gave the Capitals on the ice, ‘Bugsy’ gave the DC hockey community so much more,” NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken wrote. “Pound for pound, as tough as anyone who played the game. Deepest condolences to his wife Lindy and his family.”
“Very sad to learn of Bugsy’s passing, an absolute incredible human legend!” Alan May posted on Twitter. “An amazing husband & father! Since first meeting in ‘89 Bugs was like a father, brother, friend & mentor to me. I love & will miss you my friend. NHL just lost a great man. My prayers to the Watson’s.”
Bonus 1996 commercial featuring Bryan Watson as a bartender and delivering a pizza via slap shot. pic.twitter.com/n8fETjxAN1
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) July 9, 2021
Screenshots: Monumental Sports
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