Leadership and experience are probably the best words to describe what Mark Wotton brought to the Hershey Bears and other teams he played for during his hockey career. Wotton only spent one season with Hershey, but delivered a Calder Cup to chocolate town. Wotton appeared in only 43 NHL games, posting three goals and six assists. Although Wotton never gained any steady playing time in the National Hockey League, his work ethic and dedication to his teammates paved the way for younger teammates to become a better player and person on and off the ice.
Wotton was originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 10th round of the 1992 NHL entry draft. He spent five seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Saskatoon Blades including two of those years after being drafted by Vancouver. Wotton was recognized as a second team all-star in the 1993-1994 season with the Blades.
Wotton appeared in only one game as a rookie in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994-1995 season. He spent the rest of the year with Vancouver’s minor league affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Syracuse was Vancouver’s affiliate from 1994-2000 and now is affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League.
In his rookie season, Wotton compiled 12 goals and 29 assists alongside future NHL players including Michael Peca and Adrian Aucoin. After his rookie year, Wotton played 41 games for the Vancouver Canucks, but mostly spent his time in the minors with the Syracuse Crunch. He became a great defense-man and often chipped in on offense, setting his career high in points with 45, during his second year with the Vancouver Canucks organization. He played 80 games for Syracuse in the 1994-1995 season proving he was a durable presence on the blue line.
Mark Wotton left the Vancouver Canucks organization in the summer of 1999, leaving for the Dallas Stars organization. Wotton spent time with Michigan K-Wings of the IHL for the 1999-2000 season, his first with the team. He helped command the blue line in front of future NHL goalie standout, Marty Turco. The IHL’s operations were ceased the following year, but Wotton stayed with the Stars as they established the Utah Grizzlies as their AHL affiliate.
Wotton played only one game in five seasons as part of the Dallas Stars organization, but maintained a solid defensive presence with the Utah Grizzlies. Wotton left the Stars in the summer of 2004, leaving for Russia joining the St. Petersburg SKA. He appeared in 50 games, posting three goals and three assists. Wotton became recognized as a shutdown defenseman as teams lined up for his experience on their blue line the following year.
Wotton joined the Washington Capitals organization the following year, but was sent down after training camp to their minor league affiliate the Hershey Bears. He played 69 games during the 2005-2006 season, posting 7 goals and 19 assists. Wotton made his biggest impact through his experience and leadership, helping guide a young team to a Calder Cup that season. Wotton mentored young defenseman such as Mike Green, Deryk Engelland and Dean Arsene. He was then proclaimed a hero after delivering a championship to Hershey and has been remembered by Bears’ fans ever since.
Wotton signed with the New York Islanders the following year, but never played one game in the NHL in five years with New York. He was immediately named captain of their minor league team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Wotton helped guide younger players in the organization to the NHL such as Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau, Matt Martin and current Hershey Bear Joel Rechlicz.
Mark Wotton announced his retirement after his last season with the Sound Tigers in 2011. Wotton was happy for the new relationships he made through his hockey career. He wants to continue working in hockey as part of the New York Islanders organization. He released this statement regarding his playing career:
“I had the privilege of playing hockey for 17 seasons and developed many life-long friendships that I cherish to this day,” Wotton said. “It was an honor to serve as the Sound Tigers captain for each of the five seasons I played in Bridgeport. I look forward to continuing to work within the Islanders organization.”