Born and raised in a nickel mining town in northern Ontario, where you could play hockey outdoors form October until mid-April, Bob Whidden followed his heart and talents to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in 1967 at age 21 after two years in the Ontario Junior League. After six minor league seasons, he signed with the Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association in 1972 as the backup to Hall of Fame ‘keeper Gerry Cheevers, and in 1973, the two shared the league’s lowest goals against average. In four seasons with the Crusaders, he averaged nearly 26 games per year, limiting opponents to less than 3.5 goals per game. Shortly after undergoing a second back surgery in the spring of 1976, he saw the Crusaders fold, and after a brief stint in the Indianapolis Pacers organization in 1977, he elected to retire and return to Cleveland, where he became a major figure in the city’s hockey circles. He played a key role in bringing the Lumberjacks franchise to the city, has run innumerable hockey clinics for youngsters, and coached at several amateur levels. He is best known for his success at St. Edward High School, where he became head coach in 1984 and has since taken the Eagles to the Final Four of the Ohio High School AAA Championships 15 times and won nine state titles. He and his wife Irma make their home in North Olmsted.
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