Gerry Cheevers

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Gerry Cheevers
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1985
Born(1940-12-07) December 7, 1940 (age 73)
St. Catharines, ON, CAN
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
PositionGoaltender
teamNHL
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
WHA
Cleveland Crusaders
AHL
Pittsburgh Hornets
Rochester Americans
CHL
Oklahoma City Blazers
EPHL
Sudbury Wolves
Sault Thunderbirds
National team Canada
Playing career1956–1980
 
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Gerry Cheevers
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1985
Born(1940-12-07) December 7, 1940 (age 73)
St. Catharines, ON, CAN
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
PositionGoaltender
teamNHL
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
WHA
Cleveland Crusaders
AHL
Pittsburgh Hornets
Rochester Americans
CHL
Oklahoma City Blazers
EPHL
Sudbury Wolves
Sault Thunderbirds
National team Canada
Playing career1956–1980

Gerald Michael "Cheesey" Cheevers (born December 7, 1940 in St. Catharines, Ontario) is a former goaltender in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association between 1961 and 1980, most famous for his two stints with the Boston Bruins, where he backstopped the team to Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and 1972. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

Playing career[edit]

Cheevers' professional hockey career began in 1956 at the age of 16 when he played for the St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey Association.

He was owned by the Toronto Maple Leafs until the Boston Bruins drafted him in 1965. Cheevers still holds the American Hockey League single-season record for most victories by a goalkeeper. In 1965 he totaled 48 victories in leading the Rochester Americans to their first Calder Cup championship. He spent six years in all in the minors until, by 1967, he was Boston's number one goalie.

He was a member of both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams, gaining a reputation as a driven, "money" goaltender.

In 1972, he went undefeated in 33 consecutive games, a NHL record that still stands.

In the fall of 1972, he jumped to the fledgling World Hockey Association, playing three and a half seasons for the Cleveland Crusaders as one of the league's best goalies, winning First Team All-Star honors in 1973 and Second Team honors in 1974 and 1975.

Returning to the Bruins during the 1976 season after financial disputes with Cleveland management, Cheevers formed a goalie tandem with Gilles Gilbert. Cheevers retired at the end of the 1980 season. Cheevers and Gilbert were runners-up for the Vezina in the 1979-80 season, which was won by Don Edwards and Bob Sauvé.

Cheevers had a career NHL goals against average of 2.89, recorded 230 NHL wins, played in 419 NHL games, and registered 26 NHL shutouts. He was also second in the WHA's history in career GAA and shutouts, despite playing in only half the league's seasons. Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, and is one of the few honoured goaltenders in the Hall to have never been named to the First or Second NHL All-Star Team nor won the Vezina Trophy.

Style[edit]

Cheevers was not afraid to stray from the crease both to cut down the shooter's angle and to act as a "third defenseman". He was very aggressive with opposing players who strayed into or near the crease. Many an opposing player who got too close to the goal crease got a quick smack from Cheevers' goal stick.

Not a "stand-up" goalie, Cheevers could often be found on his knees or even his side. He perfected this "flopping" style while playing for Rochester during the 1962–63 season. Americans' coach Rudy Migay had Cheevers practice without his stick, thus requiring him to rely more on using his body and his pads. From that point on Cheevers became one of hockey's best goalkeepers.

Mask[edit]

Cheevers' iconic stitch-pattern goaltender mask came after a puck hit him in the face during practice. Cheevers, never one to miss an opportunity to skip out of practice, went to the dressing room. Bruins coach Harry Sinden followed him to the dressing room, where he found Cheevers enjoying a beer and smoking a cigarette. Sinden told Cheevers, who wasn't injured, to get back on the ice. In jest, John Forestall, the team trainer, painted a stitch mark on his mask. Ever after, any time he was similarly struck, he would have a new stitch-mark painted on. The mask became one of the most recognized of the era, and the original mask is now on the wall of his grandson's bedroom.

Years later, goalie Steve Shields would pay tribute to Cheevers when he played for the Bruins in 2002 and 2003, sporting a modern airbrushed version of the stitch-covered mask.[1] In 2008, The Hockey News rated his mask the greatest ever with a wide margin. Cheevers received 221 of possible 300 points, while second-placed Gilles Gratton got 66.

Publications[edit]

In 1971, Cheevers published the book Goaltender, detailing his experiences during the previous season, through to the unexpected loss in the first round to the underdog Montreal Canadiens.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

Cheevers' final season as a player came in 1980, when popular coach Don Cherry was replaced by Fred Creighton. After winning their division seven of the previous nine seasons, the Bruins were in third place late in the year, and general manager Harry Sinden fired Creighton, serving as interim coach for the remainder of the season himself. For the 1981 season, Cheevers was named as coach. Despite a shocking sweep in the 1981 playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars - the North Stars had never before won a game in Boston Garden in the sixteen years the team had been in the league - Sinden stuck with Cheevers, who led the Bruins to two first place and two second place finishes in their division, including to the league's best record in 1983, where the team fell only to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders in the semifinals.

Cheevers was replaced by Sinden midseason two years later. With a record of 204-126-46, he ranks 7th in career winning percentage (.604) for NHL coaches with more than 250 games experience.

Retirement[edit]

After his departure as Bruins' coach, Cheevers served as a color commentator for the Hartford Whalers from 1986 to 1995 and the Boston Bruins from 1999 to 2002. From 1995-2006 he was a member of the Bruins' scouting staff. Cheevers has also devoted his time to his interests in thoroughbred horse racing.

Awards[edit]

International play[edit]

Playing statistics[edit]

  
SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTMINGASOGAASV%
1956–57Toronto St. Michael's MajorsOHA100060404.00
1957–58Toronto St. Michael's MajorsOHA100060303.00
1958–59Toronto St. Michael's MajorsOHA60003602804.67
1959–60Toronto St. Michael's MajorsOHA3618135216011153.08
1960–61Toronto St. Michael's MajorsOHA301220523.18
1961–62Pittsburgh HornetsAHL522104.20
1961–62Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsEPHL291313313.55
1961–62Toronto Maple LeafsNHL211003.00.917
1961–62Rochester AmericansAHL1999113.63
1962–63Rochester AmericansAHL1979313.95
1962–63Sudbury WolvesEPHL5117241044.15
1963–64Rochester AmericansAHL6638252435919532.84
1964–65Rochester AmericansAHL724821352.68
1965–66Boston BruinsNHL704106.00.827
1965–66Oklahoma City BlazersCPHL30169532.49
1966–67Boston BruinsNHL22510612847213.33.923
1966–67Oklahoma City BlazersCPHL26146512.80
1967–68Boston BruinsNHL4723175264612532.83
1968–69Boston BruinsNHL52281212311214532.80
1969–70Boston BruinsNHL412488238410842.72.917
1970–71Boston BruinsNHL402785240010932.73.918
1971–72Boston BruinsNHL412758242010122.50
1972–73Cleveland CrusadersWHA5232200314414952.84.912
1973–74Cleveland CrusadersWHA5930206356218043.03.906
1974–75Cleveland CrusadersWHA5226242307616743.26.905
1975–76Cleveland CrusadersWHA281114115709513.63.886
1975–76Boston BruinsNHL158259004112.73.911
1976–77Boston BruinsNHL4530105270013733.04.903
1977–78Boston BruinsNHL21105210864812.65.903
1978–79Boston BruinsNHL4323910250913213.16.863
1979–80Boston BruinsNHL4224117247911642.81.873
NHL totals41823010274243941175262.89

Coaching statistics[edit]

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsDivision RankResult
Boston Bruins1980-8180372013872nd in AdamsLost in 1st Rd
1981-8280433710962nd in AdamsLost in 2nd Rd
1982-83805020101101st in AdamsLost in Conf. Finals
1983-8480492591041st in AdamsLost in 1st Rd.
1988-855625247(57)4th in Adams(fired)
Total37620412646

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Goaltender". Dodd Mead. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  3. ^ WHA Hall of Fame Members

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harry Sinden
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
198085
Succeeded by
Harry Sinden
Preceded by
Roger Crozier
Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award
1964-65
Succeeded by
Les Binkley