Jonathan Cheechoo

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Jonathan Cheechoo
Jonathan Cheechoo 2008.jpg
Cheechoo in 2009 with the San Jose Sharks
Born (1980-07-15) July 15, 1980 (age 37)
Moose Factory, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shoots Right
KHL team
Former teams
Free Agent
San Jose Sharks
Ottawa Senators
Medveščak Zagreb
HC Dinamo Minsk
HC Slovan Bratislava
NHL Draft 29th overall, 1998
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 2002–present

Jonathan Cheechoo (/ˈ/; Cree: ᔔᓇᕦᓐ ᒋᒍ; born July 15, 1980) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger who is currently playing for HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

During the 2005–06 National Hockey League 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. After the 2005–06 season, his production numbers began to fall, and within a few years, he has struggled to earn spots on NHL teams.

Playing career[edit]

Drafted by the Belleville Bulls of the OHL in the 1997 OHL priority selection, Cheechoo had a reasonably strong rookie year in 1997–1998 with 76 points (31 goals + 45 assists) in 64 games, good for third place on his team. In the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, San Jose sent the 2nd overall pick (David Legwand) to Nashville for the third overall pick (Brad Stuart) and the 29th overall pick, which they used to draft 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.[citation needed]

Cheechoo joined the Bulls for the 1998–1999 season and finished with 82 points (35 + 47) in 63 games. Taking off in the playoffs, Cheechoo scored 30 points (15 + 15) 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 AHL assignment, San Jose chose to leave him unsigned. San Jose was patient with Cheechoo, 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 + 46) in 66 games. Cheechoo added 17 points (5 + 12) in sixteen games during the playoffs. His high goal total hinted at his sniping capabilities, and his statistical improvement mirrored his development. 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 2000–2001 season before deciding to give the NHL another go and obtained hockey agent Thayne Campbell.

San Jose Sharks[edit]

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 + 25) in 53 games (he missed games due to a leg injury).

Cheechoo during the 2005–06 NHL season. He scored a San Jose Sharks team record 56 goals that season

In 2002–03, after scoring seven points (3 + 4) 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. During the 2003 offseason, Cheechoo put himself on a power-skating regime and reduced his body fat to single digits, doing everything from weight work to sprinting exercises to increase his skating strength.[1]

His hard work paid off, as Cheechoo had 47 points in 81 games in 2003–2004. Playing alongside Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton, Cheechoo had two mentors who taught Cheechoo how to be defensively responsible. In the 2004 playoffs, Cheechoo had 10 points in 17 games. San Jose was eliminated by Calgary. During the NHL lock-out, Cheechoo played with HV71 of the Swedish Elitserien and had 5 goals in 20 games.

In the 2005–06 season, Cheechoo's offensive statistics took off, 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, 8 assists) in 24 games. In the 57 games after the trade, Cheechoo had 78 points (49 goals, 29 assists). Thornton knew how to get the puck to Cheechoo – who had the skill to score the goals.

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 favour of young speedster Milan Michálek, Cheechoo picked it up somewhat, finishing the season with an impressive 37 goals and 69 points in 76 games. In the playoffs, it was revealed that Cheechoo played with a broken thumb. In 2006, Cheechoo signed a five-year contract extension worth US$15 million, paying him US$2.5 million the first two years, US$3 million the third year, and US$3.5 million the last two years. Cheechoo's production dropped to 23 goals the following season, then fell to just 12 goals in the 2008-09 NHL Season.

Ottawa Senators[edit]

On September 12, 2009, he was traded by the Sharks, along with Milan Michálek and a second round pick, to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Dany Heatley and a fifth round pick.[2] 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 post season and he played one game against the Penguins. On June 28, 2010, he was again placed on waivers by the Senators.[3] 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 NHL season.[4] On June 29, 2010, the Senators bought out the final year of his contract making him a free agent.[5]

Later career[edit]

Following his buy out, Cheechoo was invited to the Dallas Stars training camp on September 4, 2010.[6] 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. Stars head coach Marc Crawford stated that Cheechoo played well and that the Stars could have very easily kept the former 50 goal scorer. However, Dallas felt that Cheechoo needed to out perform their current players and therefore released him so that he would have the opportunity to join another team.[7]

On October 5, 2010, Cheechoo returned to the Sharks organization, signing a professional try-out contract with AHL affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, to re-unite with his first pro coach Roy Sommer who previously coached him with the Kentucky Thoroughblades.[8]

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.[9]

A free agent upon the 2012 NHL lock-out, 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.[10]

On July 10, 2013, Cheechoo left North America and signed a one-year contract with Croatian club, KHL Medveščak Zagreb, the newest member of Kontinental Hockey League.[11]

In May 2014, Cheechoo signed a two-year deal with KHL club HC Dinamo Minsk located in Belarus.

Personal life[edit]

Jonathan Cheechoo is a member of the Cree First Nations Group from Moose Factory, Ontario.[12] When he was young, Cheechoo did not believe that he would amount to playing 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 First Nations.[13] 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.[13] Cheechoo has said that 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 draft.[13]

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.[13] Cheechoo's childhood was very reminiscent of a traditional Cree upbringing and has said his favourite things to do when he was young was to hunt and fish with his grandfather, George Cheechoo.[13]

In his youth, Cheechoo was involved in the Little Native Hockey Tournament; a tournament which gives aboriginal youth an outlet to play hockey.[14] During the 25th Little Native Hockey Tournament, Cheechoo sat as the Captain of the team and won the tournament.[12] 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.[14]

Cheechoo is seen as a sport role model for aboriginal youth in hockey, with his involvement in the Little Native Hockey Tournament being a source of inspiration for those currently competing in the tournament and wishing to achieve the same level of success.[15]


  • San Jose Sharks' franchise record for goals in a season (56) – 2005–06
  • San Jose Sharks' franchise record for power play goals in a season (24) – 2005–06
  • San Jose Sharks' franchise record for hat tricks in a season (5) – 2005–06
  • San Jose Sharks' franchise record for hat tricks in a career (9)

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1997–98 Belleville Bulls OHL 64 31 45 76 62 10 4 2 6 10
1998–99 Belleville Bulls OHL 63 35 47 82 74 21 15 15 30 27
1999–00 Belleville Bulls OHL 66 45 46 91 102 16 5 12 17 16
2000–01 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 75 32 34 66 63 3 0 0 0 0
2001–02 Cleveland Barons AHL 53 21 25 46 54
2002–03 San Jose Sharks NHL 66 9 7 16 39
2002–03 Cleveland Barons AHL 9 3 4 7 16
2003–04 San Jose Sharks NHL 81 28 19 47 33 17 4 6 10 10
2004–05 HV71 SEL 20 5 0 5 5
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
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 61 5 9 14 20 1 0 0 0 0
2009–10 Binghamton Senators AHL 25 8 6 14 37
2010–11 Worcester Sharks AHL 55 18 29 47 14
2011–12 Peoria Rivermen AHL 70 25 31 56 24
2012–13 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 35 13 19 32 16 17 3 9 12 8
2013–14 Medveščak Zagreb KHL 54 19 19 38 40 4 0 2 2 8
2014–15 Dinamo Minsk KHL 49 24 24 48 34 5 0 1 1 18
2015–16 Dinamo Minsk KHL 54 16 22 38 28
2016–17 HC Slovan Bratislava KHL 60 14 26 40 40
NHL totals 501 170 135 305 324 59 16 19 35 32
KHL totals 217 73 91 164 142 9 0 3 3 26

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Cheechoo travels long path from Moose Factory". Retrieved April 20, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Heatley shipped to the Sharks". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  4. ^ "Report: Cheechoo, Kotalik waived – 2010 Offseason News". 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  5. ^ "Senators buy out final year of cheechoo's contract". Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  6. ^ "Cheechoo To Attend Stars Training Camp". 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  7. ^ Stepneski, Mark (2010-09-26). "Stars release Jonathan Cheechoo" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  8. ^ "Cheechoo to join Worcester Sharks". 2010-10-05. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  9. ^ "Cheechoo chugs into 500 clubs". 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  10. ^ "Barons sign Cheechoo to try-out". American Hockey League. 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  11. ^ "Report: Cheechoo signs with KHL club". NBC Sports. 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  12. ^ a b Perry, Thomas (March 12, 2017). "Little NHL becomes big deal". Timmins Press. Retrieved 2017-03-21. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Baldwin, Mike (February 7, 2013). "Barons' Jonathan Cheechoo is a long way from Moose Factory, Ontario". NewsOK. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Gilbert, Patrick. "46th Annual Little Native Hockey League tournament is a commitment to the health and well being of our communities and to our youth". Retrieved 2017-03-21. 
  15. ^ Deschamps, Tara (March 19, 2015). "First Nations teens' trek for hockey leads to travel, triumph then tragedy". The Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Jonathan Cheechoo player profile". Sports Retrieved September 28, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jarome Iginla
Ilya Kovalchuk
Rick Nash
Winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy
Succeeded by
Vincent Lecavalier