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Remembering Washington Capitals’ Bryan ‘Bugsy’ Watson

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Former Washington Capitals defenseman Bryan "Bugsy" Watson passed away Thursday.

Former Washington Capitals defenseman and NHL tough guy Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away Thursday at the age of 78. Per a Pittsburgh Penguins spokeswoman, he passed away at his home in St. Michael’s, Maryland.

Watson was born in 1942 and started his pro career with the OHL’s Petersborough Petes. He played under Scotty Bowman and earned a contract with the Montreal Canadiens. He would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1965. The 5-9 blueliner made his NHL debut in 1963 and moved around a bit, playing for the Oakland Seals, Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Capitals. Following his time with Washington, he signed with the WHA for his final NHL season.

Washington acquired Watson for Greg Joly in a trade with the Red Wings midway through the 1976-77 season. The blueliner only suited up for 155 games with Washington he registered four goals, 30 points and 294 PIM. Watson was a major physical presence on the ice, and over 877 total NHL games, he logged 152 points and 2,214 PIM, and also dropped the gloves 115 times.

To this day, though, his impact lives on in the District. After hanging up the skates following his 16-year NHL run, he moved back to D.C. He and his wife, Lindy, opened a pizza restaurant on King St. in Alexandria, VA in 1983. Fittingly known as “The Penalty Box” to start, the restaurant was affectionately called “Bugsy’s” in 1998.

“…He was always really supportive of and receptive to the Caps and he was a very generous guy,” Capitals president Dick Patrick told Mike Vogel. “He was a character around here. Even people that weren’t huge Caps fans or sports fans, they knew his place and they knew his reputation. He was a big part of the local community.”

Former players, members of the NHL community and others took to social media to pay their respects to “Bugsy,” known for his gritty playing style, big heart and memorable stories. Teams also paid tribute to the late d-man.

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