Francis Wathier (LW) 2009-2013
Francis Wathier (LW)
St. Isidore, Ontario
Stars Debut: October 2, 2009 at San Antonio
Stars Career Stats: 280 GP, 137 Points (60 Goals, 77 Assists), 280 PIMs
Francis Wathier is the only player in Texas Stars history to wear the No. 38 jersey. An Original Texas Star, the St. Isidore, Ontario native was drafted by Dallas in the sixth round (185th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Wathier played four seasons of major junior hockey in the QMJHL for the Hull Olympiques and the Gatineau Olympiques. In 253 career QMJHL games he scored 91 points (34 goals, 57 assists) and had 434 penalty minutes. Wathier helped Hull win the 2003 President’s Cup as the QMJHL Champions, beating the Halifax Mooseheads in the Finals in seven games. Hull advanced to the 2003 Memorial Cup Tournament in Quebec City, where they lost in the final to the Kitchener Rangers 6-3. The next year Hull was renamed Gatineau and they won the 2003-04 Jean Rougeau Trophy as the QMJHL regular season champions and won their second straight President’s Cup as the 2004 QMJHL champions. Wathier and Gatineau played in the 2004 Memorial Cup Tournament in Kelowna, British Columbia, losing to the hosts in the final 2-1.
Wathier signed a three-year entry-level contract with Dallas on July 27, 2005 and joined the AHL’s Iowa Stars for the 2005-06 season. He made his pro and AHL debut with Iowa on October 6, 2005 against the Peoria Rivermen and then recorded his first career pro point with an assist on October 15, 2005 at Peoria. He only played in 11 games that year due to injury, but returned to health for the 2006-07 campaign. Wathier scored his first pro goal with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on October 28, 2006 at the Victoria Salmon Kings and, after being recalled to Iowa, he scored his first AHL goal on December 5, 2006 at the Chicago Wolves. He split the 2006-07 season between Iowa and Idaho and he helped lead the Steelheads to the 2007 Kelly Cup Championship, beating the Dayton Bombers in the Finals in five games. When his entry-level contract expired he re-signed a two-year two-way contract with Dallas on July 3, 2008, and since the Stars did not have an AHL affiliate for the 2008-09, he remained in Des Moines and played for the newly branded Iowa Chops that year.
Wathier made his Texas Stars debut wearing the No. 38 jersey on October 2, 2009 at San Antonio. His name and number combination would soon become a household name to Texas Stars fans and he tallied his first point for the team with an assist on October 9, 2009 at Houston. Wathier made his NHL debut with Dallas on October 21, 2009 at Anaheim and then returned to the AHL to score his first goal for Texas on October 23, 2009 against Lake Erie, when he scored not once, but twice on the power play, including the game-winning goal, in a 5-3 win over the Monsters. He would play in five total NHL games for Dallas that season, while scoring 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 76 games for Texas.
Wathier skated in every game of the Stars’ magical playoff run to the 2010 Calder Cup Finals and few Stars fans in attendance would forget his biggest goal of the post-season, much less the outcome of that game. On June 7, 2010 at Cedar Park Center the Stars were hosting the Hershey Bears for Game 3 of the Finals, having gone to Pennsylvania and taken a surprise 2-0 series lead. After an early power play goal from Andrew Hutchinson, Hershey tied the game at 10:33 of the first period on a goal by Kyle Wilson. Stars defenseman Ethan Graham was whistled for a tripping penalty 30 seconds after Wilson’s goal, putting Texas down a man. A mere 12 seconds into the Bears power play, Wathier stole a botched clearing attempted from Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth and scored a shorthanded to goal to give Texas a 2-1 lead. Ray Sawada also scored and the Stars led 3-1 after the first period, which probably made many fans and players alike realize just how close the Calder Cup championship was. However, Hershey tied the game with two goals in the second period and scored three more in the third to run away with a 6-3 win. They stole the momentum of the series and won four straight games to capture their 11th Calder Cup championship.
Wathier signed another two-year, two-way contract with Dallas on June 30, 2010 and returned for his second season with Texas in 2010-11. He played in 68 AHL games for the Stars that year and three more NHL games for Dallas. Wathier was selected to represent Texas at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic at the Giant Center in Hershey, where he scored two goals for the Western Conference All-Stars in an 11-8 loss to the Eastern Conference All-Stars. He played in all six Calder Cup Playoff games as the Stars lost to the Milwaukee Admirals in six games. Wathier only played in one NHL game for Dallas in 2011-12, but he had a solid year for Texas. Although the Stars did not have a lot of success in the win-loss column during their third season of operations, Wathier set a career-high with 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in 75 games, while also recorded two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, registering a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. His first came on January 13, 2012 at Grand Rapids, where he fought Greg Amadio in the first period, scored the team’s fourth goal in the second period and then assisted on Scott Glennie’s game-winning goal in the third period in a 6-4 win over the Griffins. A month later he became the only player in team history to-date accomplish the feat twice. On February 15, 2012 at Lake Erie he dropped the gloves with David Liffiton early in the first period and then sparked a second period comeback. Trailing 3-0 after 20 minutes, Wathier got the Stars on the board at 14:27 then assisted on Glennie’s power play goal in the final minute of the frame to tie the score a three. Unfortunately, the Monsters would get a goal early in the third period and hang on for a narrow 4-3 win.
An unrestricted free agent, Wathier signed his fourth NHL contract with Dallas on July 13, 2012, penning another two-year, two way deal. He played in 61 regular season games for Texas last year, while also playing in his 10th career NHL game with the Stars on April 1, 2013 against Anaheim. Wathier skated in all nine of Texas’ 2013 Calder Cup Playoff games, scoring his lone goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals at home against the Oklahoma City Barons, a 2-1 overtime win for the Barons. He is one of just three players, along with Maxime Fortunus and Colton Sceviour, to have played in all 39 Calder Cup Playoff games is franchise history.
Entering the 2013-14 season Wathier ranks second all-time on the Texas Stars in games played (280), penalty minutes (350), game-winning goals (11) and shots (649), while being tied for second in power play goals (22), ranking third in assists (77) and points (137), tied for third in shorthanded goals (3) and shorthanded assists (3) and fourth in goals (60). He is the Stars’ all-time playoff leader in shorthanded goals (1), tied for first all-time in games played (39), ranks third in penalty minutes (26) and fifth in shots (75).