Editor's note: The Examiner will be announcing the members of the Missouri Mavericks' Top 10 all-time team over the next two weeks. Each sports section will feature a member of the team, as voted on by fans on the Mavericks home web page. Former CHL Man of the Year and an original member of the Mavericks, Simon Watson, is featured today.
By Bill Althaus
When Simon Watson joined a first-year Central Hockey League team called the Missouri Mavericks back in the fall of 2009, he had no idea what type of an impact the move would have on his life.
“I still call this area home,” said Watson, the 2010-11 CHL Man of the Year and the second player to be announced on the Mavericks' all-time top 10 team behind Sebastien Thinel. “When I came to Independence, I had no idea what to expect. I never thought this team and this community would make such an impact on my life, but it has. And I am so happy about the way things turned out.”
So is team president Brent Thiessen, who has seen Watson go from the ice, to the bench – serving as an assistant coach to both Scott Hillman and newly hired Richard Matvichuk – to working with the KC Mavs Elite youth hockey program.
“Simon is one of the good guys,” Thiessen said, “the type of guy you want to represent your team in the community and, in the early days of the team, on the ice. Look at the impact he has made in this area – as a player, he was the CHL Man of the Year for all the charitable activities he was involved with.
“He was one of those players who made an impact when we were just beginning this hockey team and think of how many young lives he has impacted through public and private lessons, working at our camps and now, working the Mavs Elite program.
“He was such an important part of the development of our team, but he has made a much bigger impact in the community – and that's saying something. We are so proud and honored to have Simon as a part of our organization and as a part of the top 10 team.”
When he was informed of the honor, Watson just grinned.
“Really?” Watson asked. “Wow, I heard about the team, but I'll be honest with you, I never thought about making it. I mean, this organization is going into its sixth year, but over the past five years there have been some pretty special players. To be mentioned alongside them is special.
“To be a part of this top 10 team is pretty unbelievable. It's a great honor. I'm not going to lie to you, it's great. I am surprised and honored.”
Watson retired from professional hockey in 2011. He played five years in the CHL, including his last two with the Mavericks after stints with Lubbock and Rocky Mountain. He compiled 220 points (95 goals, 125 assists) in his CHL career, including 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 111 games in his two seasons with the Mavericks, and he had the eighth-best shooting percentage in the league (.201) in his final season in 2010-11, the same year when he won CHL Man of the Year.
The Waterloo, Ontario, native is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in educational leadership.
When asked about special memories over the past five years, Watson said it would be impossible to select just one.
“There are so many, too many to really choose one or two,” said Watson, who lives in Grain Valley with his wife Samantha, a member of the Mavericks front office staff. “Making the playoffs the first year was amazing. We made the late run and got into the playoffs and that was special.
“Beating Wichita in Game 5 (of the playoffs) the second year was amazing. The crowd was so noisy, they took it to the next level. But when I think of my playing days, I just think of what it was like playing every night in front of a sold-out crowd, with our great fans. It was an amazing experience, and I am so proud to still be a part of this organization.”