Biography of Jonathan Cheechoo
Jonathan Cheechoo was born on July 15, 1980 in the remote northern Ontario community of Moose Factory. Like many Canadian youngsters, Cheechoo played hockey growing up with his father teaching him how to skate when he was just two years old. He would continue to hone his skills as a teenager and in 1997 when he was seventeen, Jonath was drafted by the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. He had a successful rookie year scoring 31 goals and 45 assists for 76 points. In 1998 Jonathan Cheechoo was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the first round, 29th overall. But his first pro-training camp was less than impressive with Cheechoo's weak skating and sometimes questionable work ethic sending him back to Belleville. He continued to build on his scoring numbers notching 82 points in his second OHL season and finished off his OHL career the following year with 91 points.
The Sharks offseason camp in 2000 was again somewhat of a disappointment for Cheechoo. He did not make the big club and was instead assigned to play with the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Jonathan made a good showing in his first pro-hockey season with 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points. In 2001, the Thoroughblades moved to Cleveland, Ohio and became the Barons. Cheechoo only managed to play in 53 games that season after suffering from a leg injury. He managed to put up 46 points that year and began showing signs of a scoring touch that the Sharks had obviously hoped for. It would not be long before he got his shot to play with the San Jose Sharks in 2002.
Cheechoo train in San Jose
On October 10, 2002 in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, Jonathan Cheechoo became the first Cree member of the Moose Cree First Nation to play in the NHL. His rookie season was spent playing on the Sharks' third and fourth lines and though his 16 points were at best average, his hard would would soon pickup. Determined to now stay in the NHL, Cheechoo became very health and fitness conscious and reaped the rewards the following year. He scored 47 points in the 2003-04 season and became an integral part of team with his physical style of play. He spent the lockout season playing for HV71 of the Swedish Elite league. The 2005-06 season began well for Jonathan, scoring 15 points in the first 24 games. But it really took off when the Sharks traded for center Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins. In the next 57 games, Jonathan Cheechoo scored 78 points played on a line with Joe Thornton.
Cheechoo's team record 56 goals in the 2005-06 NHL season netted him the prestigious Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy as the highest scorer in the NHL. In the 2006 off-season, Jonathan Cheechoo signed a 5-year US$15 million contract extension that will see him pay US$2.5 million the first two years, three million the third year, and US$3.5 million the last two years. His play on the ice has been a disappointment since he signed his big contract.
Jonathan Cheechoo in Ottawa
The Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks worked out a trade prior to the start of the 2009-2010 NHL regular season that saw Jonathan Cheechoo go to the Sens along with power forward Milan Michalek. In return, the Sharks received forward Dany Heatley who got off to a great start in Northern California. After 61 games in Canada's capital city, Cheechoo was then sent to the American Hockey League (AHL) playing for the Binghamton Senators. The next season he was back in the Sharks organization, playing in Worcester and then moved on to the St. Louis Blues organization playing for the Peoria Riverman in 2011-2012.