The Complete World Hockey Association

Bob Whidden Robert Joseph Whidden

Height: 5-10
Weight: 165
Catch: L
Born: 27 Jul 1946, Sudbury ON


Regular Season Goaltending Record (key)

year team
1972-73 Cleveland
1973-74 Cleveland
1974-75 Cleveland
1975-76 Cleveland


Date Opponent Home/Away Score Saves
Dec 2, 1973EdmontonHome3-032
Dec 27, 1975TorontoHome5-025


Excerpts from Pro Hockey, WHA 1976-77 (by Dan Proudfoot)

In the autumn of 1975, Bob Whidden's position was clear. The Cleveland Crusaders yearbook stated the situation perfectly: "Whidden could very well be the best back-up goalie in the WHA. Unfortunately for him, he plays behind perhaps the league's best goalie, Gerry Cheevers." In short, poor Whidden, experienced pro that he was, couldn't expect to play much because of all-star Cheevers' presence.

But things changed suddenly when Cheevers left the team later in the season. Suddenly Whidden was the starter and the search was on for the next-best back-up goalie to sit in reserve. ... Certainly, he played reasonably well in 1975-76, averaging 3.48 goals-against per game compared to Cheevers' 3.58. But it's been six years since Whidden played in more than 50 games in a year.


The Shadow Man • by Rich Passan • The Hockey Spectator • March 9, 1973

There is no hesitation in reply to the question that's been asked of him hundreds of times.

"I enjoy being a goaltender," said Bob Whidden, the man known best for playing in the shadow of Gerry Cheevers for the Cleveland Crusaders.

"Really, I do," he emphasized. "I wouldn't want to play any other position. People think I'm crazy for saying that, but it represents a challenge for me."

Why goal? "I couldn't see myself being a defenseman or winger," he replied. "A winger has to keep his head up most of the time because there's always somebody running at him. A defenseman has to be able to pass and handle the puck and also be tough enough to take a man out of the play."

"Now goaltending is fairly easy. I might be putting my head in a noose by saying this. If you stand up and cut down the angles, work with your defensemen, and have your forwards coming back and working for you, it's easy. It's when you're left all alone that it gets tough, said the gray-thatched native of Falconbridge, Ontario.

It was in Falconbridge, situated about 12 miles from Sudbury, that little Bobby Whidden was initially introduced to the tools of ignorance of hockey.

"One day — I can remember it distinctly — I went to a peewee game that our team played at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon," Whidden recalled fondly. "The goalie for our team had a paper route and couldn't make it. They asked me to go in goal and we won 9-0.

He was seven at the time and was immediately hooked on tending goal. "From that game on," he said, "I alternated with the guy with the paper route. And when they picked teams the next year, he went with one team and I with another, and that's how I got really started."

Until this season, Whidden had struggled through the various minor leagues of hockey, as have most of the performers in the World Hockey Association. Thus he was full of trepidation when he signed with the WHA. "Until a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure I could play in this league," said Whidden, who made specific reference to a game against the Chicago Cougars January 27th.

The stocky netminder had faced the Cougars in Chicago five weeks earlier and was beaten 6-1, but that was deceiving since three of the goals came in the final two minutes.

"That game was always in the back of my mind," Whidden confessed. "When we went back to Chicago, the newspaper said the Crusaders wouldn't have the nerve to play Whidden there again. When Coach Needham told me I was going to play, it gave me the chance to show him I could do the job."

Whidden responded with a fine 2-1 victory in which he received little or no help from his teammates. He was clearly the deciding factor in the game.

Whidden's confidence improved 150% after that, and he's been every bit as good between the pipes as Cheevers, who experienced a small slump late last month.

Working with Cheevers has been a rewarding experience for Whidden, who accepts his lesser status with resignation. "The idea of this league was to play guys like Cheevers and Hull and Wakely," whidden said. "People want to see the stars play. Maybe next year, if I can make a name for myself, that people might want to see Bob Whidden play. Cheevers has made a name for himself and I haven't. The people want to see him."

Written is a great admirer of Cheevers' goaltending ability. "I study him all the time," the 26-year-old cage-cop said. "Even in practice I study him. You have to learn from a guy like him and take advantage of it. His knowledge of the game is unending."

Concentration — or lack of it — proved a downfall to Whidden before the season. "Before, I used to sit on the bench when I wasn't playing and talked to the players. I wouldn't pay attention to the games. Now I learn and watch. Cheevers is always talking to me. Even between periods I think I have the right attitude now. I really believe that learning is an experience."

Most of the knowledge Bob brought into the WHA came from veteran goalie Al Millar with whom he played during the 1969-70 season at Rochester in the American Hockey League.

"He made me realize I had a lot to learn," he said admiringly. "He was a student of the game and taught me a lot about goaltending. I learned more from him than any other player."

Quite obviously Whidden is a good learner as his first year's performance in the WHA indicates. How much better he gets is strictly up to him now.



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