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Jonathan Cheechoo
JCheechoo.jpg
Born July 15, 1980 (1980-07-15) (age 36)
Moose Factory, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shoots Right
KHL team
Former teams
KHL Medveščak Zagreb
San Jose Sharks
Ottawa Senators
NHL Draft 29th overall, 1998
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 2002–present

Jonathan Cheechoo (born Jonathan Earl Cheechoo on July 15, 1980) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger who is currently playing for the KHL Medveščak Zagreb of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

During the 2005–06 National Hockey League season, Jonathan 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, Jonathan's production numbers began to fall, and since sustaining a concussion in the 2006-07 season has struggled to earn spots on NHL teams.

Playing CareerEdit

Drafted by the Belleville Bulls of the OHL in the 1997 OHL priority selection, Jonathan 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 Jonathan 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. He joined the Bulls for the 1998–1999 season and finished with 82 points (35 + 47) in 63 games.

Taking off in the playoffs, Jonathan 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 Jonathan, knowing that he still had room to improve in the OHL.

In the following season, Jonathan had his best year, tallying a team-high 91 points (45 + 46) in 66 games. He added 17 points (5 + 12) in sixteen games during the playoffs.

Jonathan's high goal total hinted at his sniping capabilities, and his statistical improvement mirrored his development. Notably, he never played a full season while in juniors because of minor injuries he gained from his crash-and-bang style of play.

For development, Jonathan 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 SharksEdit

Jonathan 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), he rebounded with 46 points (21 + 25) in 53 games (he missed games due to a leg injury).

In 2002–03, after scoring seven points (3 + 4) in nine games with the Cleveland Barons (the relocated Kentucky Thoroughblades franchise), Jonathan was recalled to San Jose to help revitalize the struggling team.

Playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, Jonathan had a modest 16 points (9 goals and 7 assists) in 66 games.

During the 2003 offseason, he 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.

Jonathan's hard work paid off as he had 47 points in 81 games in 2003–2004. Playing alongside Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton, Jonathan had two mentors who taught him how to be defensively responsible. Also, he became one of San Jose's best grinders; his new upper-body strength allowed him to win many battles along the boards.

In the 2004 playoffs, Jonathan had 10 points in 17 games. San Jose was eliminated by Calgary. During the NHL lockout, he played with HV71 of the Swedish Elitserien and had 5 goals in 20 games.

In the 2005–06 season, Jonathan's offensive statistics took off, netting a franchise record 56 goals and 93 points. Much of his success was augmented by the Sharks acquisition of superstar Joe Thornton in late November. Before the trade, Jonathan had 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) in 24 games.

In the 57 games after the trade, Jonathan had 78 points (49 goals, 29 assists). Thornton knew how to get the puck to him (who had the skill to score the goals. In the 2006–07 season, he 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 favor of young speedster Milan Michalek, Jonathan 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 he played with a broken thumb.

In 2006, Jonathan 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.

His production dropped to 23 goals the following season, then fell to just 12 goals in the 2008-09 NHL season.

Ottawa SenatorsEdit

On September 12, 2009, Jonathan was traded by the Sharks, along with Milan Michalek and a second round pick, to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Dany Heatley and a fifth round pick.

On February 12, 2010, he was placed on waivers by the Senators after they acquired Matt Cullen from the Carolina Hurricanes.

On February 13, 2010, Jonathan cleared waivers and was re-assigned 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.

Jonathan (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.

On June 29, 2010 the Senators bought out the final year of Jonathan's contract which made him a free agent.

Later Playing CareerEdit

Following his buyout, Jonathan was invited to the Dallas Stars training camp on September 4, 2010.

He was released from the tryout 22 days later, on September 26, 2010 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 Jonathan played well and that the Stars could have very easily kept the former 50 goal scorer, however, Dallas felt that he needed to out perform their current players and therefore released him so that he would have the opportunity to join another team.

On October 5, 2010, Jonathan 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.

On July 12, 2011, Jonathan was signed by the St. Louis Blues to a one-year, two-way contract. While playing with the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, he earned his 500th career professional point on November 27, 2011 against the Chicago Wolves.

A free agent upon the 2012 NHL lockout, Jonathan 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.

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

Career StatisticsEdit

    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 KHL Medveščak Zagreb KHL 40 17 13 30 26
NHL totals 501 170 135 305 324 59 16 19 35 32

Awards & AchievementsEdit

  • 1997–98 OHL: First All-Rookie Team
  • 2000–01 AHL: All-Rookie Team
  • 2003–04 Played in the NHL YoungStars Game
  • 2005–06 NHL: Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
  • 2006–07 Played in NHL All-Star Game
  • 2010–11 AHL: All-Star Team (Did not participate.)

RecordsEdit

  • 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)

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