Lost in the list of names of the Detroit Red Wings' history are the goalies who tended goal for the Wings. Many goalies have come and gone in the crease for Detroit, all of them bearing the weight of heavy expectations. It was my good fortune to catch up with one of these masked warriors from Detroit, former starting goaltender Tim Cheveldae. Cheveldae tended goal for the Wings during the 1989-90 season, then burst into the starting role in 1990-91, 1991-92, and 1992-93. He played a startling 72 games out of 80 in the 1991-92 campaign.
It is my great pleasure to share the thoughts of Mr. Tim Cheveldae.
Justin--What was it like for you to share a room with the likes of Paul Coffey, Steve Yzerman, and Sergei Fedorov?
Tim--I knew I was playing with three very special players who some day would be in the hall of fame.One of the many thing that impressed me with Stevie is that, whether he got three points or no points in a game. The effort was always the same. Sergei was most pure talented player I ever played with. Coff is the purest skater I have ever seen , even today.
Justin--Describe the grind of an 80 game season on a starting goaltender. You started 72 games in 1991-92. How did you stay prepared?
Tim--Well the NHL season is a grind. To play 72 games you need to stay healthy and fortunately I was able to. I found to play that many games was more demanding mentally than physically. To be successful as a starting goalie, you have to be very focussed for each game and it takes "work " to prepare yourself mentally. If you played three games in four nights and won all three games. You usually felt pretty fresh both physically and mentally, if you lost all three, you felt so drained mentally and lot more tired.
Justin-- Despite playing well in 1993-94, you were still traded to Winnipeg for Bob Essensa. What goes through a player’s mind when they are traded?
Tim--In 93-94 I pretty much knew was going to be traded. Even with knowing that , it still shocking when you get the "call". After you have been told you have been traded it is a little of a whirl wind. You don t have a lot of time to think. You are focused on getting your stuff packed and going off to your new team.
Justin-- Who was the most talented player in the league to face when you played?
Tim--Super Mario That much skill with that size. He was amazing .
Justin--You suffered the same fate as many goalies (Curtis Joseph, Essensa, Bill Ranford) in Detroit, having the blame of early playoff exits laid at your feet by the fans. Do you feel this blame is warranted?
Tim--When we lost out to Toronto in 7 games, yes I wish I could have played better and deserved some of the blame for our teams failure, but I was not the only reason we lost that series that s for sure.
Justin--What was it like playing for an Original Six team like Detroit?
Tim--Playing with an original six team was great. Every time you went the rink, there was history and tradition in the air, you could feel it. And was pretty cool meeting players like Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay.
Justin-- Compare Winnipeg to Detroit…which arena was the most difficult to play in?
Tim--Playing for the Wings my last couple of years at the "Joe" was pretty tough. The fans got on me pretty good. When I got traded to Winnipeg, the hardest part was going from a team that had a chance to win a Cup, to a team in a major rebuild.
Justin--Do you feel the original Jets were unfairly moved to Phoenix in 1996? On the flip side, having played in Winnipeg, what does the return to the Jets mean to that city?
Tim--Fair or unfair its all about the team's ability to produced revenue. That's why Winnipeg lost the Jets and that's why Atlanta lost the Thrashers. I think it's great that Winnipeg got a team back and that they are called the Jets. You just had to watch a Jets home game this season to see how excited the city was to have the team back.
Justin-- Have you remained in contact with any of your former teammates in either Winnipeg or Detroit?
Tim--The player I see the most , would be Dave Manson. We coached in the same Midget hockey league.
Justin-- What keeps you busy in your retirement? Are you still involved in hockey at all?
Tim--For the past five years I have been a firefighter on a military base outside Saskatoon. I am an Assistant coach with the Midget "AAA" Saskatoon Blazers.