Monday, February 21, 2011


I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees,
I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees,
Asked the Lord above, have mercy now,
Save poor Bob if you please.

It is one of the greatest legends ever. Blues guitarist Robert Johnson, perhaps the greatest guitarist to have ever lived, is said to have met the devil at the crossroads somewhere in rural Mississippi before the Depression. In his quest to become the greatest bluesman ever, Johnson sold his soul and grasped a talent unknown before him. So great was his talent, that, decades after his mysterious death at the age of 27 in 1938, some of the greatest guitarists of the modern era, like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, pay homage to him in their styles and lyrics. Johnson himself liked to play the legend up, as witnessed in his most famous song "Crossroads".

In many ways, another Robert, Toronto Rock goaltender Bob Watson, is inspiring the same incredulous admiration. Watson is nearing the age of 41, an age where professional athletes should be well into retirement, perhaps commentating on TV or cashing in on their fame at autograph shows, or, in the case of lacrosse players, going to work everyday at their real jobs.

Instead, Bob Watson at the tender age of 41 is having arguably his greatest season ever as a pro. Half-way through this current season, he ranks second in the leage in minutes played ( over 513 minutes ), first in shots faced ( 404 ), first in goals against average ( 8.42 goals allowed per game ), and first in save percentage ( a goal every .822 shots ). These statistics are staggering, and he is far ahead of many rivals in these categories, rivals who are more than ten years his junior.

The numbers only tell part of the story. The Rock are enjoying a spectacular first half of the season. Their record of 7 wins and only 2 losses are league best. They play with a confidence not seen in Toronto for several years. Teams going against the Rock are intimidated by their complete play: in several games, opponents manage to stay close for the first half, but fade badly in the second half, the part of the game where the truly better team is supposed to take over. The Rock play with superb confidence because of one man: their goaltender, the man who will come up with the big save when needed, the man who allows his teammates to play with little regard for the crucial transition game, so important in lacrosse, because they know that, if caught out of position, Watson will make the important save, allowing the Rock to maintain their lead,and snuffing out any chance the opposition has of coming back.

It is a superb performance so far by a virtuoso, a master at his craft.

There is only one explanation how a man who should be "put out to pasture" in this tough, fast, demanding, sometimes brutal game, can be so dominant.

Bob Watson has obviously been to the crossroads. He has been given an incredible gift. And, as long as he plays, he will be admired by fans, teammates, and opponents alike.

No comments:

Post a Comment