Jonathan Cheechoo, dubbed as a one-hit wonder by many, scored 56 goals in a sensational single NHL campaign, and etched his name in the history of the league for eternity. However, he could not replicate the same form ever again, as his performances declined considerably in the twilight of his career. He won the prestigious Maurice Rocket Richard trophy for his top-notch scoring statistics in the 2005-06 campaign, establishing himself as one of the most promising snipers in the leagues. However, that was ages ago. Now, Cheechoo’s career has reached an all-time low, as he readies himself for an imminent retirement. In order to understand Cheechoo’s checkered career, we must first analyze its beginnings, and then discuss recent happenings.
His meteoritic rise in the NHL started in the 2005-06 season with San Jose, when he stunned everyone with his killer goal conversion ratio – courtesy the visionary Joe Thornton. On the ominous date of November 30, 2005, The Sharks were able to steal one of the best assist-makers in the league, from the Boston Bruins. This spelled disaster for the Bruins, but it was a wondrous signing for the sharks. It changed the landscape of the NHL in the coming year, putting the sharks in contention for the title. However, the man who profited the most from Joe Thornton’s signing was Jonathan Cheechoo. This offense partnership joined hands to batter oppositions, and leave defenses for dead. Cheecho, under the influence of Joe, enjoyed the best time of his professional career. Thornton, in that season was able to score a staggering 72 assists in a measly 58 games for The Sharks.
The ensuing seasons weren’t all that bad for Cheechoo, but they were nowhere near his debut season, in terms of quality. He made notable contributions in the 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, scoring 28, 37 and 23 goals respectively. Obviously, he fell way short in terms of goals and performances in these seasons as compared to his inaugural season, but he was still a man in form and control.
There is no way Cheecho is making his way back to the NHL at the ripe age of 35. He was last seen in the NHL, playing for Ottawa senators in 2010. After that, he migrated to the AHL, and from there, moved on to the KHL for the 2013-14 campaign.
The 2008-09 league season was a turning point in Cheechoo’s career. He lost his touch and barely managed to score 12 goals in 66 games – his lowest tally ever recorded in the NHL. Due to his persistent poor form, the Sharks were compelled to trade him to the Ottawa senators in 2009. Things didn’t get better for him in Ottawa, as he was able to amass only 5 goals in 61 games for the senators. He was further demoted to the AHL due to these atrocious goal scoring statistics.
From 2010-2014, Cheechoo has played with the likes of Binghamton senators, Worcester Sharks, Oklahoma City Barons and Riverman, in the AHL. He began to find his form yet again in the AHL, and in his time at the AHL, he scored a total of 56 goals, and amassed 79 assists, making for an impressive showing. His offensive contributions in the AHL weren’t so dissimilar to his outputs in the NHL. However, in his maiden NHL season with the Sharks, he was on a whole other level.
In 203-14, the media and Cheechoo’s faithful fans once more tried to sensationalize his move to Zargeb Medvescak of the KHL. He was named as the captain of the club in his first year, and was able to score 19 goals and 19 assists in a total of 54 games.
He signed with Minsk Dynamo in the coming years, and packed a punch with his offensive play, scoring 24 goals and 24 assists in 49 games. He still skates for them today, and is going strong, even at this decrepit age.
The question still remains −Will Cheechoo make a surprising return to the NHL? I, for once wouldn’t bet on it, considering his age, and considering the fact that his best years are way past him. No one wants to incorporate a washed up veteran forward, except clubs who are looking to increase the depth of their squads for the post season. The chances of Cheechoo ever returning to an NHL team are perilously thin. He has enjoyed a thinly celebrated career, has both experience and the skills, and he can add something to a young NHL team which is looking for an inexpensive, but proven NHL player.