In researching early European hockey stars like Rudi Ball, Gustav Jaenecke and Herbert Brück, an interesting name caught my attention. They all seemed to idolize and respect a fellow by the name of Blake Watson.
Now Blake Watson certainly is not your typical European name, so I became curious. After a bit of digging it turns out Blake Watson was born and raised in Canada, growing up with the game of hockey. In fact he was so good he is inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
The left winger from Carman, Manitoba was a star with the University of Manitoba from 1922 through 1925, winning the Memorial Cup in 1923 with a teammate of Murray Murdoch and Art Chapman. He captained the 1927-28 University of Manitoba Grads hockey club that won the Allan Cup as amateur champions of Canada. In 1931 the same Varsity squad represented Canada at the World Championships in Poland, bringing home the gold medal to Manitoba.
Obviously he was a pretty good hockey player. Undoubtedly he would have drawn interest from professional clubs in Canada, although I am unsure if any of the NHL teams ever had any interest.
But Watson may have had little interest in pursuing the game professionally. You see he was a very studious fellow who at some point became a doctor, apparently a dentist.
His studies in medicine led him to Vienna, where he also played and coach the local club Wiener EV. He played in Austria from 1925 through 1927 and then again for the 1929-30 season. He also played in Zurich, Davos, Prague (where he may have practiced medicine as a podiatrist) and Germany, and was regularly asked to represent European all star teams to play against travelling Canadian squads.
Watson was one of the strongest players in Europe during this time, serving as an inspiration to many younger home-grown talents.
Watson returned to Canada in 1933, working as an assistant clinical professor at the University of Manitoba while also serving on staff at Winnipeg General Hospital.
In 1936 Watson relocated permanently to California, where he established himself as a noted obstetrician for over 50 years. He even had celebrity patients such as Greta Garbo, Carol Burnett, Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor. He may have also continued as a dentist, serving Gary Cooper, Fred Astair and Oliver Hardy.
At the age of 94 Blake Haverson Watson died in California on May 19, 1998.
I really do not know any more about Mr. Watson. If you have any more information about his life in hockey and after hockey, please email me. But it does seem Dr. Blake Watson was absolutely vital to the development of hockey in Austria in particular, and in Europe on a larger scale as well. I am really surprised he is not already inducted into the IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame.