SAN JOSE - Forward Jonathan Cheechoo today formally announced his retirement from the game of hockey, following 16 stellar professional seasons - nine of which he spent as a member of the San Jose Sharks organization.
"Cheech" played in 501 NHL games with San Jose and Ottawa, scoring 305 points (170 goals, 135 assists) and 324 penalty minutes.
Cheechoo will be recognized at SAP Center at San Jose prior to the Sharks March 24 game against the Calgary Flames.
"I have been privileged to be able to reach my goals and to play the game that I love," said Cheechoo. "Hockey has taken me from Moose Factory to San Jose and many places around the world.
"First of all, I would like to thank the San Jose Sharks organization for drafting me and giving me the opportunity of playing in the National Hockey League. We had many awesome years of incredible hockey! I want to thank all of my former teammates. It was an awesome experience to play alongside all of you. You made the game enjoyable and helped me to become a better player and person.
I'd like to thank my agent, Thane Campbell, for his support, guidance and belief in me along the journey. And to all of the incredible fans - your faithful support give us strength and energy to play with passion each night. To the community of Moose Factory -my extended family - thank you for your support and encouragement. It was a thrill to represent you all.
"A big thanks to my Mom and Dad, brother, Jordan, and sister, Kari. I definitely would not have made it without your unwavering support.
"Last but not least, I want to thank my wife, Ashley, and my son, Jack, who were my biggest fans. Thank you for enthusiastically joining me on this fantastic hockey journey that often took me away from you guys.
"I leave the game I love with wonderful memories, great friends, great fans and an awesome family that enjoyed the journey with me. I have been blessed!"
In six seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Cheechoo scored 291 points (165 goals, 125 assists) in 440 games. In the 2005-06 season, he set a Sharks franchise record, scoring 56 goals, including a team-record 24 power-play goals, en route to scoring 93 points (10th, NHL) and becoming the first Shark to capture the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. He also finished first in the NHL in game-winning goals with 11. The following season, he was voted to the starting line-up for the Western Conference in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.
His 291 points ranks him 8th on the franchise's all-time scoring list and his 165 goals ranks 6th in franchise history. His nine hat tricks, including five during the 2005-06 season, remain the most in Sharks history. He also remains in the franchise's all-time Top 10 in power-play goals (T-5th, 62), game-winning goals (4th; 36), shots (8th; 1208), and plus/minus (T-8th; +42). Of players who played at least 400 career games with the Sharks, he ranks second in shooting percentage (13.7), behind only Mike Ricci (14.0).
Cheechoo also appeared in 58 Stanley Cup Playoff games with San Jose, posting 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists). In addition, he played in one playoff game with Ottawa in 2010.
Following his NHL career, Cheechoo played parts of four seasons in the American Hockey League and has spent the past four seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Cheechoo was drafted by San Jose in the second round (29th overall) of the 1998 NHL Draft. Prior to arriving in San Jose, he spent parts of three seasons with the Sharks American Hockey League affiliates in Kentucky and Cleveland, playing under current San Jose Barracuda Head Coach Roy Sommer.
Cheechoo's retirement from hockey follows a remarkable journey that began in Moose Factory, Ontario - more than 500 miles north of Toronto at the southern tip of Hudson Bay. A member of the Cree First Nations, he overcame tremendous odds to play in the NHL and maintained a strong bond with his hometown community that continues today.
"With the tremendous support of his immediate family and his extended Cree First Nations family, Jonathan completed a remarkable journey from one of North America's remote locations to an elite National Hockey League player," said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. "His hard work and persistence made him one of the most beloved players in Sharks history. Off the ice, you would be hard-pressed to find a more humble and respectful individual. We congratulate him and his family on a fantastic hockey career."