Gerry Cheevers

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Gerry Cheevers
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1985
Gerry Cheevers 1983.JPG
Cheevers in 1983
Born (1940-12-07) December 7, 1940 (age 73)
St. Catharines, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
team NHL
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
WHA
Cleveland Crusaders
AHL
Pittsburgh Hornets
Rochester Americans
CHL
Oklahoma City Blazers
EPHL
Sudbury Wolves
Sault Thunderbirds
National team  Canada
Playing career 1956–1980

Gerald Michael "Cheesey" Cheevers (born December 7, 1940 in St. Catharines, Ontario) is a former goaltender in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association between 1961 and 1980, most famous for his two stints with the Boston Bruins, where he backstopped the team to Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and 1972. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

Playing career[edit]

Cheevers' professional hockey career began in 1956 at the age of 16 when he played for the St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey Association.

He was owned by the Toronto Maple Leafs until the Boston Bruins drafted him in 1965. Cheevers still holds the American Hockey League single-season record for most victories by a goalkeeper. In 1965 he totaled 48 victories in leading the Rochester Americans to their first Calder Cup championship. He spent six years in all in the minors until, by 1967, he was Boston's number one goalie.

He was a member of both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams, gaining a reputation as a driven, "money" goaltender.

In 1972, he went undefeated in 32 consecutive games, a NHL record that still stands.[1][2]

In the fall of 1972, he jumped to the fledgling World Hockey Association, playing three and a half seasons for the Cleveland Crusaders as one of the league's best goalies, winning First Team All-Star honors in 1973 and Second Team honors in 1974 and 1975.

Returning to the Bruins during the 1976 season after financial disputes with Cleveland management, Cheevers formed a goalie tandem with Gilles Gilbert. Cheevers retired at the end of the 1980 season. Cheevers and Gilbert were runners-up for the Vezina in the 1979-80 season, which was won by Don Edwards and Bob Sauvé.

Cheevers had a career NHL goals against average of 2.89, recorded 230 NHL wins, played in 419 NHL games, and registered 26 NHL shutouts. He was also second in the WHA's history in career GAA and shutouts, despite playing in only half the league's seasons. Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, and is one of the few honoured goaltenders in the Hall to have never been named to the First or Second NHL All-Star Team nor won the Vezina Trophy.

Style[edit]

Cheevers was not afraid to stray from the crease both to cut down the shooter's angle and to act as a "third defenseman". He was very aggressive with opposing players who strayed into or near the crease. Many an opposing player who got too close to the goal crease got a quick smack from Cheevers' goal stick.

Not a "stand-up" goalie, Cheevers could often be found on his knees or even his side. He perfected this "flopping" style while playing for Rochester during the 1962–63 season. Americans' coach Rudy Migay had Cheevers practice without his stick, thus requiring him to rely more on using his body and his pads. From that point on Cheevers became one of hockey's best goalkeepers.

Mask[edit]

Cheevers' iconic stitch-pattern goaltender mask came after a puck hit him in the face during practice. Cheevers, never one to miss an opportunity to skip out of practice, went to the dressing room. Bruins coach Harry Sinden followed him to the dressing room, where he found Cheevers enjoying a beer and smoking a cigarette. Sinden told Cheevers, who wasn't injured, to get back on the ice. In jest, John Forestall, the team trainer, painted a stitch mark on his mask. Ever after, any time he was similarly struck, he would have a new stitch-mark painted on. The mask became one of the most recognized of the era, and the original mask is now on the wall of his grandson's bedroom.

Years later, goalie Steve Shields would pay tribute to Cheevers when he played for the Bruins in 2002 and 2003, sporting a modern airbrushed version of the stitch-covered mask.[3] In 2008, The Hockey News rated his mask the greatest ever with a wide margin. Cheevers received 221 of possible 300 points, while second-placed Gilles Gratton got 66.

Publications[edit]

In 1971, Cheevers published the book Goaltender, detailing his experiences during the previous season, through to the unexpected loss in the first round to the underdog Montreal Canadiens.[4]

Coaching career[edit]

Cheevers' final season as a player came in 1980, when popular coach Don Cherry was replaced by Fred Creighton. After winning their division seven of the previous nine seasons, the Bruins were in third place late in the year, and general manager Harry Sinden fired Creighton, serving as interim coach for the remainder of the season himself. For the 1981 season, Cheevers was named as coach. Despite a shocking sweep in the 1981 playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars - the North Stars had never before won a game in Boston Garden in the sixteen years the team had been in the league - Sinden stuck with Cheevers, who led the Bruins to two first place and two second place finishes in their division, including to the league's best record in 1983, where the team fell only to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders in the semifinals.

Cheevers was replaced by Sinden midseason two years later. With a record of 204-126-46, he ranks 7th in career winning percentage (.604) for NHL coaches with more than 250 games experience.

Retirement[edit]

After his departure as Bruins' coach, Cheevers served as a color commentator for the Hartford Whalers from 1986 to 1995 and the Boston Bruins from 1999 to 2002. From 1995-2006 he was a member of the Bruins' scouting staff. Cheevers has also devoted his time to his interests in thoroughbred horse racing.

Awards[edit]

International play[edit]

  • 1974 Played for Team Canada at the Summit-74 series
  • 1976 Spare goaltender for Team Canada in the Challenge Cup
  • 1979 Played for NHL All Stars in the Challenge Cup vs. Team Soviet Union

Playing statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1956–57 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHA 1 60 4 0 4.00
1957–58 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHA 1 0 0 0 60 3 0 3.00
1958–59 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHA 6 360 28 0 4.67
1959–60 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHA 36 18 13 5 2160 111 5 3.08
1960–61 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHA 30 12 20 5 1775 94 2 3.18
1961–62 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 5 2 2 1 300 21 0 4.20
1961–62 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds EPHL 29 13 13 3 1740 103 1 3.55
1961–62 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 2 1 1 0 120 6 0 3.00 .917
1961–62 Rochester Americans AHL 19 9 9 1 1140 69 1 3.63
1962–63 Rochester Americans AHL 19 7 9 3 1140 75 1 3.95
1962–63 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 51 17 24 10 3060 212 4 4.15
1963–64 Rochester Americans AHL 66 38 25 2 4359 195 3 2.84
1964–65 Rochester Americans AHL 72 48 21 3 4359 195 5 2.68
1965–66 Boston Bruins NHL 7 0 4 1 340 34 0 6.00 .827
1965–66 Oklahoma City Blazers CPHL 30 16 9 5 1760 73 3 2.49
1966–67 Boston Bruins NHL 22 5 10 6 1284 72 1 3.33 .923
1966–67 Oklahoma City Blazers CPHL 26 14 6 5 1520 71 1 2.80
1967–68 Boston Bruins NHL 47 23 17 5 2646 125 3 2.83
1968–69 Boston Bruins NHL 52 28 12 12 3112 145 3 2.80
1969–70 Boston Bruins NHL 41 24 8 8 2384 108 4 2.72 .917
1970–71 Boston Bruins NHL 40 27 8 5 2400 109 3 2.73 .918
1971–72 Boston Bruins NHL 41 27 5 8 2420 101 2 2.50
1972–73 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 52 32 20 0 3144 149 5 2.84 .912
1973–74 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 59 30 20 6 3562 180 4 3.03 .906
1974–75 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 52 26 24 2 3076 167 4 3.26 .905
1975–76 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 28 11 14 1 1570 95 1 3.63 .886
1975–76 Boston Bruins NHL 15 8 2 5 900 41 1 2.73 .911
1976–77 Boston Bruins NHL 45 30 10 5 2700 137 3 3.04 .903
1977–78 Boston Bruins NHL 21 10 5 2 1086 48 1 2.65 .903
1978–79 Boston Bruins NHL 43 23 9 10 2509 132 1 3.16 .863
1979–80 Boston Bruins NHL 42 24 11 7 2479 116 4 2.81 .873
NHL totals 418 230 102 74 24,394 1175 26 2.89
WHA totals 191 99 78 9 11,352 591 14 3.12 .905

Playoffs[edit]

Season Team League GP W L MIN GA SO GAA
1959–60 St. Michael's Majors OHA 10 600 33 0 3.30
1960–61 St. Michael's Majors OHA 20 1200 52 1 2.60
1960–61 St. Michael's Majors M-Cup 9 7 2 540 21 1 2.33
1961–62 Rochester Americans AHL 2 2 0 120 8 0 4.00
1962–63 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 8 4 4 485 29 1 3.59
1963–64 Rochester Americans AHL 2 0 2 120 8 0 4.00
1964–65 Rochester Americans AHL 10 8 2 615 24 0 2.34
1965–66 Oklahoma City Blazers CPHL 9 8 1 540 19 0 2.11
1966–67 Oklahoma City Blazers CPHL 11 8 3 677 29 1 2.57
1967–68 Boston Bruins NHL 4 0 4 240 15 0 3.75
1968–69 Boston Bruins NHL 9 6 3 572 16 3 1.68
1969–70 Boston Bruins NHL 13 12 1 781 29 0 2.23
1970–71 Boston Bruins NHL 6 3 3 360 21 0 3.50
1971–72 Boston Bruins NHL 8 6 2 483 21 2 2.61
1972–73 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 9 5 4 548 22 0 2.41
1973–74 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 5 1 4 303 18 0 3.56
1974–75 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 5 1 4 300 23 0 4.60
1975–76 Boston Bruins NHL 6 2 4 392 14 1 2.14
1976–77 Boston Bruins NHL 14 8 5 858 44 1 3.08
1977–78 Boston Bruins NHL 12 8 4 731 35 1 2.87
1978–79 Boston Bruins NHL 6 4 2 360 15 0 2.50
1979–80 Boston Bruins NHL 10 4 6 619 32 0 3.10
NHL totals 88 53 34 5396 242 8 2.69
WHA totals 19 7 12 1151 63 0 3.28

Coaching statistics[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Division Rank Result
Boston Bruins 1980-81 80 37 20 13 87 2nd in Adams Lost in 1st Rd
1981-82 80 43 37 10 96 2nd in Adams Lost in 2nd Rd
1982-83 80 50 20 10 110 1st in Adams Lost in Conf. Finals
1983-84 80 49 25 9 104 1st in Adams Lost in 1st Rd.
1988-85 56 25 24 7 (57) 4th in Adams (fired)
Total 376 204 126 46

References[edit]

  1. ^ McLaren, Ian (2014-03-19). "This Day in Hockey History". The Score. Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  2. ^ "Bruins Keep Rolling". The New York Times. 1983-02-14. Retrieved 2014-03-2. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Goaltender". Dodd Mead. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  5. ^ WHA Hall of Fame Members

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harry Sinden
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
198085
Succeeded by
Harry Sinden
Preceded by
Roger Crozier
Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award
1964-65
Succeeded by
Les Binkley