Cheechoo with the San Jose Sharks in 2009
July 15, 1980|
Moose Factory, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)|
San Jose Sharks|
29th overall, 1998|
San Jose Sharks
During the 2005-06 season, he led the NHL with 56 goals and won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. He was the first San Jose Sharks player to win the "Rocket" Richard Trophy, awarded to the NHL player with the most goals in a season.
Drafted by the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the 1997 OHL priority selection, Cheechoo had a reasonably strong rookie year in 1997-98 with 76 points (31 goals and 45 assists) in 64 games, good for third place on his team. In the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks traded the second overall pick (used to select David Legwand) to the Nashville Predators for the third overall pick (used to select Brad Stuart) and the 29th overall pick, which they used to select Cheechoo. Most had predicted that Cheechoo would be a later-round pick, and San Jose was criticized for picking a lackluster forward who "skated slower forwards than most players skated backwards" instead of the highly touted Legwand.
Cheechoo joined the Bulls for the 1998-99 season and finished with 82 points (35 goals and 47 assists) in 63 games. Taking off in the playoffs, Cheechoo scored 30 points (15 goals and 15 assists) in 21 games. Five of those goals were scored during Game 7 of the OHL Final against the London Knights, a game the Bulls would win 9-2 to secure their first OHL Championship. Although he was now eligible for American Hockey League (AHL) assignment, San Jose chose to leave him unsigned, knowing he still had room to improve in the OHL. In the following season, Cheechoo had his best year, tallying a team-high 91 points (45 goals and 46 assists) in 66 games. Cheechoo added 17 points (5 goals and 12 assists) in 16 games during the playoffs. Notably, Cheechoo never played a full season while in juniors because of minor injuries he gained from his crash-and-bang style of play. For development, Cheechoo joined San Jose's AHL affiliate, the Kentucky Thoroughblades, in the 2000-01 season before deciding to give the NHL another try and retaining hockey agent Thayne Campbell.
Cheechoo had a strong rookie season with Kentucky in the AHL, scoring 66 points in 75 games. After going scoreless in the playoffs (in which he was a healthy scratch for two games), Cheechoo rebounded with 46 points (21 goals and 25 assists) in 53 games (he missed games due to a leg injury).
In 2002-03, after scoring seven points (three goals and four assists) in nine games with the Cleveland Barons (the relocated Kentucky Thoroughblades franchise), Cheechoo was recalled to San Jose to help revitalize the struggling team. Playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, Cheechoo had a modest 16 points (9 goals and 7 assists) in 66 games.
His hard work paid off, as Cheechoo had 47 points in 81 games in 2003-04. Playing alongside Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton, Cheechoo had two mentors who taught Cheechoo how to be defensively responsible. Before the Calgary Flames eliminated San Jose in the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, Cheechoo had 10 points in 17 games. During the NHL lock-out, Cheechoo played with HV71 of the Swedish Elitserien and scored 5 goals in 20 games.
In the 2005-06 season, Cheechoo's offensive statistics exploded, with him netting a franchise record 56 goals and 93 points. Much of Cheechoo's success was augmented by the Sharks acquisition of superstar Joe Thornton in late November. Before the trade, Cheechoo had 15 points (7 goals and 8 assists) in 24 games. In the 57 games after the trade, Cheechoo had 78 points (49 goals and 29 assists). Due to his uptake in goal scoring, Cheechoo became the first Sharks player to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy and the second aboriginal player to score more than 50 goals in a season.
In the 2006-07 season, Cheechoo got off to a slow start as he, Joe Thornton and newly acquired power forward Mark Bell failed to click. However, after a struggling Bell was demoted to the press box in favor of young speedster Milan Michalek, Cheechoo picked it up somewhat, finishing the season with 37 goals and 69 points in 76 games. During the 2007 off-season, Cheechoo required double hernia surgery to repair injuries he amassed during the Sharks' playoff run.
During the 2007-08 season, Cheechoo's production dropped to 23 goals. Cheechoo's production dropped further the following season, where he scored just 12 goals.
On September 12, 2009, Cheechoo was traded by the Sharks (along with Michalek and a second-round draft pick) to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Dany Heatley and a fifth-round pick. On February 12, 2010, Cheechoo was placed on waivers by the Senators after they acquired Matt Cullen from the Carolina Hurricanes.
On February 13, 2010, he cleared waivers and was reassigned to the Binghamton Senators, Ottawa's AHL affiliate. He was recalled in the playoffs and played one game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. On June 28, he was again placed on waivers by the Senators. Cheechoo, who was heading into the final year of a five-year contract signed with San Jose in 2006, was reportedly owed $3.5 million for the 2010-11 season. On June 29, the Senators bought out the final year of his contract, making him a free agent.
Following his buy out, Cheechoo was invited to the Dallas Stars training camp on September 4, 2010. He was released from the tryout 22 days later, on September 26, following his appearance in two pre-season games where he failed to register a point and posted a -2 rating. Despite his efforts, Dallas felt Cheechoo could not out perform their current players and therefore released him so he would have the opportunity to join another team.
On October 5, 2010, Cheechoo returned to the Sharks organization, signing a professional try-out contract with their AHL affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, to re-unite with his first professional head coach Roy Sommer, who previously coached him with the Kentucky Thoroughblades.
On July 12, 2011, Cheechoo was signed by the St. Louis Blues to a one-year, two-way contract. While playing with the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, Cheechoo earned his 500th career professional point on November 27 against the Chicago Wolves.
A free agent upon the 2012-13 NHL lockout, Cheechoo was belatedly signed to a professional try-out contract with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL during the midpoint of the 2012-13 season on January 20, 2013.
In May 2014, Cheechoo signed a two-year deal with KHL club Dinamo Minsk from Belarus. In 2016, he signed a one-year deal with Slovan Bratislava. Cheechoo was selected for the 2017 KHL All-Star game.
On March 6, 2018, Cheechoo officially announced his retirement. He was recognized at the SAP Center in San Jose prior to the Sharks' game against the Calgary Flames on March 24, 2018. After Cheechoo announced his retirement, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson commented about Cheechoo's background; Wilson talked about the fact that he was a player who was able to have great success from a remote area of Canada.
Cheechoo is a member of the Cree First Nations tribe from Moose Factory, Ontario. When he was young, Cheechoo did not believe he would play in the NHL; instead, he believed that he would follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and would become a trapper and hunter for the Cree. Over time, Cheechoo developed into a strong hockey player and, at age 14, left his home after being told he would need to in order to develop his hockey skills. Cheechoo moved to Timmins, Ontario, around 300 kilometres away from his home, to play bantam hockey. Living so far from home Cheechoo was homesick, he found it very difficult to have to leave his close family at such a young age. Cheechoo has said he had a very strong support system when he was deciding to pursue hockey. His success was a highlight for Moose Factory, as shown by the 120 individuals who left Moose Factory to support him when he went 29th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
Growing up in a small town, Cheechoo enjoyed the tight-knit nature of the town and expressed thanks for the high level of support he had from the people he grew up with. Cheechoo's childhood was very reminiscent of a traditional Cree upbringing and he has said his favorite things to do when he was young were to hunt and fish with his grandfather, George Cheechoo.
In his youth, Cheechoo was involved in the Little Native Hockey League, a tournament which gives aboriginal youth an outlet to play hockey. During the 25th Little Native Hockey Tournament, Cheechoo sat as the captain of the team and won the tournament. Cheechoo has described his involvement with the organization as being a positive aspect of his hockey career. Cheechoo sat as the Honorary Chair during the 46th annual event which took place in March 2017.
Cheechoo has been known to go out of his way and talk to children and interact with those who admire him. Cheechoo is seen as a sport role model for aboriginal youth in hockey, with his involvement in the Little Native Hockey League being a source of inspiration for those currently competing in the tournament and wishing to achieve the same level of success.
|2002-03||San Jose Sharks||NHL||66||9||7||16||39||--||--||--||--||--|
|2003-04||San Jose Sharks||NHL||81||28||19||47||33||17||4||6||10||10|
|2005-06||San Jose Sharks||NHL||82||56||37||93||58||11||4||5||9||8|
|2006-07||San Jose Sharks||NHL||76||37||32||69||69||11||3||3||6||6|
|2007-08||San Jose Sharks||NHL||69||23||14||37||46||13||4||4||8||4|
|2008-09||San Jose Sharks||NHL||66||12||17||29||59||6||1||1||2||4|
|2012-13||Oklahoma City Barons||AHL||35||13||19||32||16||17||3||9||12||8|
|CHL Top Prospects Game||1998|
|First All-Rookie Team||1998|
|All-Star Game||2001, 2011*|||
|NHL YoungStars Game||2004|
|Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy||2006|
|All-Star Game||2014, 2015, 2017|||
On Cheechoo's second goal, the teammates both collected their 85th point of the season, surpassing Owen Nolan for the single-season franchise record in points.
Mr. Cheechoo -- who recently signed a five-year, $15-million (U.S.) contract extension