Gerry Cheevers

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.

Gerry Cheevers
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1985
Gerry Cheevers 1983.JPG
Cheevers in 1983
Born (1940-12-07) 7 December 1940 (age 79)
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Cleveland Crusaders
National team  Canada
Playing career 1961–1980
Website www.gerrycheevers.com

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.

Playing careerEdit

Cheevers's 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 (with whom he played two games for) 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 (ironically, 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. As of 2019, Cheevers still holds the Boston Bruins' records for most playoff wins by a goaltender (with 53) and shutouts (with eight). Tuukka Rask is in second place in both categories with 50 playoff wins and seven shutouts.

In 1972, he went undefeated in 32 consecutive games, a NHL record that still stands.[1][2]

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; he missed game three to attend the funeral of his father.

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.

StyleEdit

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.[citation needed]

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 wearing his distinctive mask with the Boston Bruins in 1980

MaskEdit

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 team trainer, drew a stitch mark on his mask, which amused the team.[3] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

PublicationsEdit

In 1971, Cheevers published the book Goaltender, detailing his experiences during the 1970–71 season, through to the unexpected loss in the first round to the underdog Montreal Canadiens.[6]

Coaching careerEdit

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.

RetirementEdit

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 horse racing.[citation needed] 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.

Popular cultureEdit

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."[citation needed]

AwardsEdit

International playEdit

  • 1974 – Played for Team Canada at the 1974 Summit Series
  • 1976 – Spare goaltender for Team Canada in the Canada Cup
  • 1979 – Played for NHL All Stars in the Challenge Cup vs. Team Soviet Union

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
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 Sault Thunderbirds EPHL 29 13 13 3 1,740 103 1 3.55
1961–62 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 5 2 2 1 300 21 0 4.20
1961–62 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 2 1 1 0 120 6 0 3.00 .905
1961–62 Rochester Americans AHL 19 9 9 1 1,140 69 1 3.63 2 2 0 120 8 0 4.00
1962–63 Rochester Americans AHL 19 7 9 3 1,140 75 1 3.95
1962–63 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 51 17 24 10 3,060 212 4 4.15 8 4 4 485 29 1 3.59
1963–64 Rochester Americans AHL 66 38 25 2 4,359 195 3 2.84 2 0 2 120 8 0 4.00
1964–65 Rochester Americans AHL 72 48 21 3 4,359 195 5 2.68 10 8 2 615 24 0 2.34
1965–66 Boston Bruins NHL 7 0 4 1 340 34 0 6.00 .829
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 Boston Bruins NHL 22 5 10 6 1,284 72 1 3.33 .896
1966–67 Oklahoma City Blazers CPHL 26 14 6 5 1,520 71 1 2.80 11 8 3 677 29 1 2.57
1967–68 Boston Bruins NHL 47 23 17 5 2,646 125 3 2.83 .907 4 0 4 240 15 0 3.75 .895
1968–69 Boston Bruins NHL 52 28 12 12 3,112 145 3 2.80 .912 9 6 3 572 16 3 1.68 .947
1969–70* Boston Bruins NHL 41 24 8 8 2,384 108 4 2.72 .919 13 12 1 781 29 0 2.23 .925
1970–71 Boston Bruins NHL 40 27 8 5 2,400 109 3 2.73 .918 6 3 3 360 21 0 3.50 .892
1971–72* Boston Bruins NHL 41 27 5 8 2,420 101 2 2.50 .920 8 6 2 483 21 2 2.61 .915
1972–73 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 52 32 20 0 3,144 149 5 2.84 .912 9 5 4 548 22 0 2.41 .921
1973–74 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 59 30 20 6 3,562 180 4 3.03 .906 5 1 4 303 18 0 3.56 .908
1974–75 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 52 26 24 2 3,076 167 4 3.26 .905 5 1 4 300 23 0 4.60
1975–76 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 28 11 14 1 1,570 95 1 3.63 .886
1975–76 Boston Bruins NHL 15 8 2 5 900 41 1 2.73 .902 6 2 4 392 14 1 2.14 .917
1976–77 Boston Bruins NHL 45 30 10 5 2,700 137 3 3.04 .882 14 8 5 858 44 1 3.08 .865
1977–78 Boston Bruins NHL 21 10 5 2 1,086 48 1 2.65 .887 12 8 4 731 35 1 2.87 .883
1978–79 Boston Bruins NHL 43 23 9 10 2,509 132 1 3.16 .865 6 4 2 360 15 0 2.50 .891
1979–80 Boston Bruins NHL 42 24 11 7 2,479 116 4 2.81 .881 10 4 6 619 32 0 3.10 .875
NHL totals 418 230 102 74 24,394 1,175 26 2.89 .901 88 53 34 5,396 242 8 2.69 .902
WHA totals 191 99 78 9 11,352 591 14 3.12 .905 19 7 12 1,151 63 0 3.28

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA
1974 Canada SS 7 1 3 3 420 24 0 3.43

* Stanley Cup Champion.

"Gerry Cheever's stats". The Goaltender Home Page. Retrieved August 6, 2017.

Coaching statisticsEdit

Team Year Regular season Postseason
G W L T Pts Finish Result
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
BOS 1984–85 56 25 24 7 (57) (fired)
Total 376 204 126 46     4 playoff appearances

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ McLaren, Ian (March 19, 2014). "This Day in Hockey History". The Score. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  2. ^ "Bruins Keep Rolling". The New York Times. February 14, 1983. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  3. ^ a b O'Reilly, Terry (January 5, 2017). "The Crazy World of Trademarks". Under the Influence. CBC Radio. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Masked Marvels". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Hockey, music part of singer's makeup". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  6. ^ Goaltender. Dodd Mead. OCLC 70356023.
  7. ^ "WHA Hall of Fame Members". Archived from the original on January 15, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2013.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Harry Sinden
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
19801985
Succeeded by
Harry Sinden
Preceded by
Roger Crozier
Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award
1964–65
Succeeded by
Les Binkley