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ATLANTA THRASHERS VS SAN JOSE SHARKS
Atlanta Thrashers Ilya Kovalchuk (left), of Russia and San Jose Sharks Jonathan Cheechoo skate close in the second period at Philips Arena in Atlanta, March 22, 2007. Cheechoo score a hat trick as the Sharkes defeated the Thrashers 5-1. (UPI Photo/John Dickerson) ............................................................
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Jonathan Earl Cheechoo (born July 15, 1980 in Moose Factory, Ontario) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger currently playing for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). Cheechoo was the first member of the Moose Factory Cree First Nation to play in the NHL. During the 2005–06 season, he led the league with 56 goals and gained the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. He was the first San Jose Sharks player and the only First Nations person to win the "Rocket" Richard Trophy, awarded to the NHL player with the most goals in a season.

Drafted by the Belleville Bulls of the OHL in the 1997 OHL priority selection, Cheechoo 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 Cheechoo 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. Presumably, since Cheechoo started playing hockey at a late age, his skating skills took longer to develop.

Cheechoo joined the Bulls for the 1998–1999 season and finished with 82 points (35 + 47) in 63 games. Taking off in the playoffs, Cheechoo 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 Cheechoo, knowing he still had room to improve in the OHL. In the following season, Cheechoo had his best year, tallying a team-high 91 points (45 + 46) in 66 games. Cheechoo added 17 points (5 + 12) in sixteen games during the playoffs. His high goal total hinted at his sniping capabilities, and his statistical improvement mirrored his development. Notably, Cheechoo never played a full season while in juniors because of minor injuries he gained from his crash-and-bang style of play. For development, Cheechoo 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.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jonathan Cheechoo."
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