Christopher J. Cichocki [Cha-HOCK-ey] (born September 17, 1963 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American retired ice hockey right winger. He played for both Detroit and New Jersey at the NHL level, but is mostly known for his high scoring in the American Hockey League. He is a former Head Coach of the Stockton Thunder in the ECHL. He currently serves as a professional scout for the Edmonton Oilers.
Minor league hockey
While playing for the Grosse Pointe Bruins in midget AAA, Cichocki put up 50 goals and 70 assists in 70 games to lead the league with 120 points for the 1979–80 season. He then spent two years playing in the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League before deciding to attend college at Michigan Technological University. In 1983 he was chosen to represent team USA in World Junior Tournament in Leningrad Russia.In both his sophomore & junior seasons he led the Huskies in scoring. The hockey world took notice of his skills and Cichocki was signed as a free agent by his hometown team, the Detroit Red Wings, on June 28, 1985.
Playing in the NHL
Cichocki began playing for his hometown Red Wings during the 1985–86 season. He played 59 games of the season and posted 21 points on the season. However the Red Wings were going through roster changes, trying to find a winning combination to play alongside Steve Yzerman and Gerard Gallant, and Cichocki didn't always fit into the equation. For the 1986–87 season, Cichocki only played two games for the Detroit club, but was a powerful force on Detroit's farm team, the Adirondack Red Wings. In 55 games he contributed 65 points and helped Adirondack march into the playoffs. However, in Detroit's effort to find veteran leadership, Cichocki was traded before the end of the season on March 9, 1987, to the New Jersey Devils. Mel Bridgman made the trip to Detroit for Cichocki and Detroit's 3rd round draft pick. Cichocki finished out the 1986–87 season with the Maine Mariners, scoring four points in seven games.
The following seasons saw Cichocki start fresh, playing for New Jersey's farm team the Utica Devils. He scored 66 points in 1987–88 and 63 points in 1988–89. During that span he played in seven games for the New Jersey Devils, scoring one goal, one assist and four penalty minutes. In 1989, Cichocki chipped in an assist during Utica's short playoff run.
After beginning the 1989–90 season with Utica, Cichocki was traded to the Hartford Whalers for Jim Thomson on October 31, 1989. Cichocki was quickly placed on Hartford's farm team the Binghamton Whalers and again started to put up big numbers. In four seasons with the Binghamton Whalers (renamed the Binghamton Rangers in 1990), Cichocki chalked up 221 points, including three 50-point seasons and 18 points within three playoff runs, all of which ended in the semi-finals to division rival the Rochester Americans.
After the 1992–93 season, Cichocki's contract was over and he decided to continue his career with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the International Hockey League. Cichocki acquired 120 points in four seasons of play for the Cyclones, with his largest total of 52 coming in the 1994–95 season. Still the Cyclones could not find post-season success, never being able to reach the finals in four years of postseason play. After playing just six games for the Cyclones in 1997–98, Cichocki officially retired on October 23, 1997.
Cichocki the coach
The Cyclones needed an assistant coach and Cichocki was retiring at just the right time. Cichocki took over the position and would remain assistant coach until the IHL folded at the end of the 1999–2000 season. He helped lead the Cyclones to winning records each year and into the playoffs. After Cincinnati, Cichocki was offered the head coaching job and the position of Director of Hockey Operations for the Arkansas RiverBlades of the ECHL. He accepted and led the RiverBlades to a 34-24-14 record and their first shot at the playoffs, eventually losing in the second round to the South Carolina Stingrays. After two more winning seasons, including 2002–03 in which Arkansas saw Cichocki setting team records in both wins and points, Cichocki was invited to return to Cincinnati to Head Coach the new Cyclones for the 2003–04 season and received a warm welcome as the fans reacted to having him back. However the excitement was short-lived as the Cyclones finished dead-last in the Northern division with a 25-43-4 record, and with the lowest point total in the franchise's history. The Cyclones suspended operations the following season and Cichocki decided to take the year off from coaching after his dismal season. But he decided to return to coaching when he took over the Head Coach position for the newly formed Stockton Thunder in 2005. The Thunder finished with an 18-40-14 record, good enough for last in the Pacific division. Cichocki was given another chance and in the 2006–07 season, turned the club around with a 36-point increase, finishing with a record of 38-22-10 and reaching the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club's history. The Thunder lost in the Semi-finals to the Idaho Steelheads after an intense six-game series. That season also saw Cichocki selected as one of four coaches to coach in the 2007 Rbk Hockey ECHL All-Star Game. On April 5, 2007, Cichocki was granted a three-year contract extension to coach the Thunder through 2010. However, he was fired on December 29, 2008.
Currently he is a Pro Scout with the Edmonton Oilers.
Cichocki has a wife Val and two children, Quinn and Carly.
- Neil Schmidt (2003-10-05). "After rumors of its demise, team plays on". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
- "Cichocki Signs Three-Year Contract Extension". stocktonthunder.com. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
- Scott Linesburgh (2007-04-20). "End comes too early for Thunder". Recordnet.com. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
- Shellie Lima and Pro Hockey News Staff Reports (2008-12-29). "Thunder fire head coach Chris Cichocki". Prohockeynews.com. Retrieved 2012-04-08.