Gerald Michael "Cheesie" Cheevers (born 7 December 1940) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) and World Hockey Association (WHA) between 1961 and 1980. Cheevers is best known for his two stints with the Boston Bruins, whom he helped win the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1985|
7 December 1940|
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
Toronto Maple Leafs|
He was the first to decorate his goaltender mask with stitch markings where a puck had struck, leading to the contemporary tradition of goaltenders decorating their masks with distinctive visual stylings.
The right to sign him to an NHL contract was held by the Toronto Maple Leafs (with whom he played two games) until the Boston Bruins drafted him in 1965. In the 1964–65 season he won 48 games in leading the Rochester Americans to their first Calder Cup championship, becoming the final goaltender in league history to play every game (coincidentally, he did this one season after his future Bruins teammate Eddie Johnston was the final goaltender to do so in the NHL). Cheevers still holds the AHL record for most victories in a season by a goaltender.
He was claimed that offseason by the Boston Bruins in the Intra-League Draft, and saw his first action with the Bruins in the 1966 season, although he spent the bulk of the next two years with the Bruins' farm club, the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Professional Hockey League.
With the six team expansion in 1967, and the Bruins losing goaltenders Bernie Parent and Doug Favell to the expansion Philadelphia Flyers, Cheevers became the number one goaltender in Boston for the next five seasons.
He was a member of both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams, gaining a reputation as a driven, "money" goaltender. Cheevers held the Boston Bruins' record for most playoff wins by a goaltender (with 53) until it was surpassed by Tuukka Rask in 2021. Cheevers had held the record since 1977 when he surpassed Frank Brimsek's mark of 32.
In the fall of 1972, he jumped to the fledgling World Hockey Association, where he played three and a half seasons for the Cleveland Crusaders. He made the First All-Star Team in 1973 and Second All-Star Team in 1974 and 1975. In 1974, he played seven of the eight games for Team Canada in the 1974 Summit Series.
Cheevers returned to the Bruins during the 1975–76 season after a financial dispute with the Crusaders' management. In the 1979–80 season Cheevers and Gilles Gilbert were runners-up for the Vezina Trophy, which was won by Don Edwards and Bob Sauvé of the Buffalo Sabres. He retired at the end of that season.
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 is second in the WHA's history in career GAA and shutouts, even though he played during only half the league's existence. If one combines both their NHL and WHA statistics, Gerry Cheevers (329), Mike Liut (325), and Bernie Parent (304) all would have at least 300 wins. Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, and is one of the few goaltenders in the Hall to have never been named to the All-Star Team or won the Vezina Trophy.
Cheevers was not afraid to stray from the crease to cut down the shooter's angle or to act as a "third defenseman". He was very aggressive with opposing players who strayed into or near the crease, and was not afraid to hit opposing players with his goalie stick if they got too close to the crease.
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.
Cheevers was inspired to create his distinctive stitch-pattern mask when 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. Annoyed, Sinden ordered Cheevers, who wasn't injured, to get back on the ice. In jest, John "Frosty" Forristall, the Bruins' assistant trainer, drew a stitch mark on his mask, which amused the team. After that, any time he was similarly struck, he had a new stitch-mark drawn on his mask. Cheevers later claimed that the mask spared him from over 150 medical stitches over his career and was the first to be custom decorated in the sport. The mask became one of the most recognized of the era, and the original is now on the wall of his grandson's bedroom.
Years later, goalie Steve Shields paid tribute to Cheevers when he played for the Bruins in 2002 and 2003, sporting a modern airbrushed version of the stitch-covered mask. In 2008, The Hockey News rated his mask the greatest ever by a wide margin. It received 221 of possible 300 points; Gilles Gratton's mask was rated second with 66.
Cheevers's mask design has appeared in rock-n-roll culture. Black Veil Brides' lead singer Andy Biersack cited it as the reason he got interested in hockey and played goalie when he was younger. In homage to Cheevers, Biersack painted stitches on his face for live shows.
Cheevers's final season as a player came in 1980, when popular coach Don Cherry was replaced by Fred Creighton. After winning their division in seven of the previous nine seasons, the Bruins were in third place late in the year, and general manager Harry Sinden fired Creighton and took over as coach for the remainder of the season. For the 1980–81 season, Cheevers was named coach. In that year's playoffs the Bruins suffered a shocking sweep by the Minnesota North Stars, who had never before won a game in Boston Garden. Even so, Sinden stuck with Cheevers, who led the Bruins to two first-place and two second-place finishes in their division over the next three years. He led the team to the league's best record in the 1982–83 season; in the playoffs the team fell to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the New York Islanders, in the semifinals.
Cheevers was replaced by Sinden in the middle of the 1984–85 season. With a record of 204–126–46, he ranks seventh in career winning percentage (.604) among NHL coaches with more than 250 games experience.
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 to 2006 he was a member of the Bruins' scouting staff. Cheevers has also devoted time to Thoroughbred racing. His most successful runner was the Grade 1 winner Royal Ski. Cheevers frequently made allusions to horse racing during interviews. After playing a particularly good game in the 1972 Stanley Cup playoffs, Cheevers told reporters he "felt like Riva Ridge"—the horse that had recently won the 1972 Kentucky Derby.
Cheevers lives in Everett, Massachusetts.
In 1996, Canadian pop-punk band Chixdiggit released their self-titled album on SubPop, and included the song "I Feel Like Gerry Cheevers (Stitchmarks On My Heart)." The lyrics include references to Cheevers' undefeated streak, the stitch marks drawn for every shot that hit his cheek, and his number 30 jersey. The chorus includes the lyrics "he wore a mask just like my heart, it had stitch marks on every part."
- 1964–65 – Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award, which goes to the AHL goalie with the best goals against average
- Played in the 1969 NHL All-Star Game
- 1972–73 – WHA First Team All-Star, won Ben Hatskin Award for best goaltender
- 1973–74 – World Hockey Association Second Team All-Star
- 1974–75 – World Hockey Association Second Team All-Star
- 1979–80 – Runner-up for the NHL's Vezina Trophy (Lowest goals-against average at the time)
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985
- Inducted into the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame in 1987
- Inducted as an inaugural member into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in 2010
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|1956–57||St. Michael's Midget Majors||THL||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1956–57||St. Michael's Majors||OHA-Jr.||1||—||—||—||60||4||0||4.00||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1957–58||St. Michael's Majors||OHA-Jr.||1||0||0||0||60||3||0||3.00||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1958–59||St. Michael's Buzzers||MetJHL||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1958–59||St. Michael's Majors||OHA-Jr.||6||—||—||—||360||28||0||4.67||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1959–60||St. Michael's Majors||OHA-Jr.||36||18||13||5||2,160||111||5||3.08||—||10||—||—||600||33||0||3.30||—|
|1960–61||St. Michael's Majors||OHA-Jr.||30||12||20||5||1,775||94||2||3.18||—||20||—||—||1,200||52||1||2.60||—|
|1960–61||St. Michael's Majors||MC||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||9||7||2||540||21||1||2.33||—|
|1961–62||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||2||1||1||0||120||6||0||3.00||.905||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1965–66||Oklahoma City Blazers||CPHL||30||16||9||5||1,760||73||3||2.49||—||9||8||1||540||19||0||2.11||—|
|1966–67||Oklahoma City Blazers||CPHL||26||14||6||5||1,520||71||1||2.80||—||11||8||3||677||29||1||2.57||—|
* Stanley Cup Champion.
"Gerry Cheever's stats". The Goaltender Home Page. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
|BOS||1980–81||80||37||20||13||87||2nd in Adams||Lost in Preliminary Round|
|BOS||1981–82||80||43||37||10||96||2nd in Adams||Lost in Division Finals|
|BOS||1982–83||80||50||20||10||110||1st in Adams||Lost in Conference Finals|
|BOS||1983–84||80||49||25||9||104||1st in Adams||Lost in Division Semifinals|
|Total||376||204||126||46||4 playoff appearances|
- McLaren, Ian (March 19, 2014). "This Day in Hockey History". The Score. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
- "Bruins Keep Rolling". The New York Times. February 14, 1983. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- "The Summit in 1974: Team Canada Players". www.chidlovski.net. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
- O'Reilly, Terry (January 5, 2017). "The Crazy World of Trademarks". Under the Influence. CBC Radio. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- "Masked Marvels". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- "Hockey, music part of singer's makeup". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Goaltender. Dodd Mead. OCLC 70356023.
- "Royal Ski". Equibase Co. LLC. December 17, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
- "WHA Hall of Fame Members". Archived from the original on January 15, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2013.