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Jimmy Watson fondly recalls career in Hall of Fame ceremony

As Jimmy Watson reflected on his 10-year Flyers career during his induction to the Flyers Hall of Fame on Monday, one central theme resonated through his speech.

Gratitude.

No, not the cliche "thanks to my coaches and teammates for helping me be so great" or "thank you to all the fans!" that has become commonplace from athletes, but a deep-rooted gratitude that seemed to help motivate Watson throughout his career. Nobody was exempt -- not teammates, coaches, executives, fans or even Ed Snider himself.

"Thank you for making all of this possible," Watson said, speaking of Snider, "for all of us alumni, for all the current players and for all the fans out there."

Watson also went on to detail the Flyers' history, from their noble origins 50 years ago until now. He recalled how the Flyers were selected "least likely to succeed" in a poll, and how the plan was to prove those skeptics wrong.

The plan, obviously, worked. The Orange and Black became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup in 1974, and duplicated the feat in 1975. Watson was a pivotal member of those teams, as a key cog of their blue line.

Of course, no team has ever won a Cup single-handed. Watson was grateful for the teammates that helped the Flyers hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, including a fellow defenseman, Andre 'Moose' Dupont.

"Who could forget the great Moose Dupont?" Watson asked. "There's no way we win those cups without Moose Dupont. He was incredible."

Watson also shed light on what he learned from other teammates -- particularly from one of the best captains and leaders in Flyers history, Bobby Clarke.

"They say that great leaders have a way of inspiring their teammates, and that would be the case with Bobby," Watson said. "He once said to me, Jim, you can play in this league if you just work your tail off. Bobby, wherever you are, thank you very much."

He also shed light on one of the more poignant moments of his career, which, of course, involved Clarke. As the Flyers fell in the semifinal round of the playoffs to Montreal (the eventual champions), Watson recalled a players-only meeting that Clarke conducted.

"Clarke asked the coaches to leave the room, and told the media we had a team meeting with just the players. I was a rookie. Bobby said to all the players ‘Boys, we got a special team here...go home take good care of yourselves, train real hard, and come back with a great attitude. Of course, we came back the next year, '73-'74."

The rest is history. 

Watson also offered advice to younger players, and as the operator of the Jim Watson Hockey Camp at IceWorks in nearby Aston, Pa., he's quite qualified to offer such advice. In addition to the young players, he offered words of encouragement to the hockey parents in attendance as well.

"Instead of worrying about wins or losses," Watson said, "or how many goals you scored, just worry about how hard your son or daughter plays. If you play hard, if you become a really good team player, and you learn leadership, you will become a real good player and learn to love the game.

"Keep playing hard, don’t worry about winning or losing...become a real hard competitor. Work after practice, and take good care of yourself."

Watson was then presented with a bust, and a portrait of him as a gift. From there, his banner was hoisted atop the Wells Fargo Center rafters, joining 24 other names that have provided a big-time impact on Flyers history.

Throughout this season, much has been made of the direction Ron Hextall is taking the team in, and where they will go in the future. And while the Flyers' future is looking bright, there's still the obligatory nod to the team's past, and those who have helped the team get to where it is today.

Jimmy Watson, without a doubt, is one of those players. His contributions to the Orange and Black have been countless, and Monday was all about recognizing  and honoring them.

Rob Riches is a contributor to Flyerdelphia and Sports Talk Philly. Follow him on Twitter @Riches61

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