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Cheechoo Wins PlayStation three Stars Award

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks announced that right wing Jonathan Cheechoo is the winner of the 2005-06 PlayStation “Three Stars of the Game” Award. Cheechoo was honored with the award from PlayStation following tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion at San Jose. Sony Computer Entertainment will also present a check for $2,500 to The Sharks Foundation in recognition of Cheechoo’s accomplishment.

Cheechoo edged Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau by a single point to claim the award.

Cheechoo has scored a league-leading and franchise record 56 goals this season and his 93 points (56-37=93) set a franchise record as well. Scoring in pivotal moments, Cheechoo leads the NHL in game-winning goals (11), home-ice goals (31) and divisional goals (29). His five-point performance (3-2=5) on April 15 against Anaheim was a Sharks season-high and gave him five hat tricks on the season. He became the first player to record five or more hat tricks in a season since Mario Lemieux notched six in 1995-96.

The native of Moose Factory, Ontario became just the second aboriginal player to score more than 50 goals in a season, joining former Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach. Since 2003-04, Cheechoo has scored the most game-winning goals in the NHL (20) and he has the most goals among any player entering the NHL since 2002-03 (93).

During the 2005-06 season, “Cheech” was selected Seagate Technology “Sharks Player of the Month” for the month of November and January and was named the NHL Offensive Co-Player of the Week with teammate Joe Thornton (Apr. 10 – 16). The six-foot-one, 195-pound winger earned a star in 23 games this season.

At the end of each 2005-06 regular season game, players received five points for being chosen first star, three points for second star and one point for third star as listed on the official NHL game sheet distributed by the game’s official scorekeepers. Each star is chosen by members of the media based on the player’s performance each game.

The Sharks won’t know until Tuesday evening if they begin the 2006 Playoffs Presented By Intersil on the 21st or the 22nd. The club has the day off on Tuesday, but if they begin in Nashville on the 21st, the club would fly to Music City on the 19th. If they start the series on the 22nd, the flight would not occur until the 20th.

Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson knows which schedule he would prefer.

“If we don’t play on Sunday, I can watch the Sopranos,” laughed Wilson.

Whenever they begin, the key is the Sharks will be going in confident and healthy. Despite losing their final regular season contest, the Sharks are heading in having won eight of their last nine.

“It’s not how we wanted to end, but we’re heading into the playoffs with a lot of confidence,” said Thornton.

Cheechoo did suffer a cut to his mouth from an accidental collision with his own teammate.

“He was lining up for the hit and I was behind chasing their player,” said Cheechoo. “It happens.”

Many point to Nashville’s netminder Tomas Vokoun being forced to miss the postseason as a positive for the Sharks, but San Jose knows better than to underestimate any opponent, especially since Chris Mason has rattled off five consecutive victories.

“They’ve played well all year long and they are an all-around good team,” said Thornton. “I’ve only played against Nashville once, but it will be a difficult series. They have a lot of good skaters.”

Tomorrow afternoon, the New York Rangers play their final game of the season against the Ottawa Senators, who are hoping to lock up the east’s number one seed. The Rangers want to secure a division title and keep from slipping to a fourth seed.

Sharks fans aren’t as interested in the team totals as they are Jaromir Jagr’s. Jagr is three points behind Joe Thornton in the league’s overall scoring race and the Czech forward is two goals behind Cheechoo for the goal scoring award.

While fans are interested, the Sharks players tied to the race aren’t extremely concerned with it. When asked about the potential hardware, Thornton replied, “A Stanley Cup would be great.”

Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson would have liked to see his players help themselves in the stats race.

“I wish Joe and Cheech would have added a little more padding,” said Wilson.

Wilson has not officially tabbed his starting goaltender for the postseason, but he has unofficially dropped a few hints.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out,” said Wilson. “It’s probably Toskala.”

Luc Robitaille, a respected thorn in the Sharks side for many years, played his final regular season game Monday night and was cheered by the HP Pavilion faithful. The top scoring left wing of all-time was acknowledged by Sharks management during a television timeout and was cheered again following the game when he shook hand with several Sharks players.

“I think he’s been around so long that I played against him,” joked Wilson. “He was a great player and I’m happy he won a cup before retiring. He was always a great ambassador for the game. Always positive and smiling. He is stepping down at the right time and hopefully the Kings will keep him around.”

Sharks rookie, and fellow Quebecer, Steve Bernier enjoyed the night against a provincial hero.

“He is a French-Canadian kid whose problem was skating and he scored 600 goals,” said Bernier. “I’m a French-Canadian kid who had to improve my skating, so maybe I can try to do what he did.

“He is one of the best left wings in the history of the NHL. It was amazing to play in his last game. It is a memory of a lifetime for me.”

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