ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 22: Matt Hackett #31 of the Minnesota Wild defends against Jonathan Cheechoo #18 of the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on September 22, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
It was only 7 years ago that Moose Factory, Ontario born forward, Jonathan Cheechoo won the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy as a member of the San Jose Sharks. During that season, Cheechoo netted 56 goals, setting a franchise best at that time for the Sharks, a record that is still untouched to this day. While teamed up with linemates, Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek, Cheechoo followed through the next season with 37 goals and 69 points in 76 games. That same season saw the Ontario native sign a five-year contract extension that was to pay him $15 million for his services. By many accounts, Jonathan Cheechoo was living the high life, then it ended.
The '07-08 campaign saw Cheech only light the lamp 23 times. Players often have scoring slumps; some last a few games, maybe a few weeks, heck, Scott Gomez went a whole calendar year before going top shelf again. Perhaps the then 28 year old would have loved to trade places with Gomez. Sure Gomez didn't score for a whole year but he wasn't as easily forgotten. In his final season in San Jose, Cheechoo dropped to only 12 goals before being traded to the Ottawa Senators with Milan Michalek. The trade seemed great for Michalek who continued the success that he had shown in San Jose. However, for Cheechoo, finding his footing again proved hard and he found himself on the waiver wire twice. He was eventually bought out by the Senators. The once 'Rocket' trophy winner bounced from AHL team to team, wrapping up last season with St. Louis Blues' affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.
How might this tie into the Coyotes? Cheechoo is hungry for another shot at the majors. Dave Tippett and Company have a proven record of picking up misfits and molding them into pieces fit for the playoff contending team we've seen for the last three seasons. Cheechoo brings the possibility of high reward at a low risk, extremely low risk. And until the ownership situation is cleared up, General Manager Don Maloney will have to continue to look for the next hidden gem to help push this team along. Jonathan Cheechoo may just be that gem. The now 32 year old looks to be returning to form, slowly but surely. Last season saw him notching 25 goals and 56 points in 75 games for the Rivermen. A form that could easily challenge spots for players like, Kyle Chipchura, Paul Bissonnette, and Andy Miele; all of which were given chances by the Phoenix Coyotes, all of which performed when called upon.