Tony Esposito – the pioneering Corridor of Famer who spent virtually his total 16-year NHL profession at Chicago – has died after a quick battle with pancreatic most cancers, the staff mentioned Tuesday. He was 78.
Esposito instantly formed Chicago and made a long-lasting impression on the NHL.
Esposito made his debut with Montreal in the course of the 1968–69 season, showing in 13 video games. He was then left unprotected, with the Canadiens deep in goalkeepers, and brought over by Chicago in an intraliga draft for $ 25,000. It was an funding that paid off instantly for a staff that completed final of their division.
Esposito helped put Chicago in first place and displayed his butterfly model, scoring 2.17 objectives in opposition to the common and 15 shutouts, nonetheless a contemporary document for an NHL goalkeeper. He received the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Yr within the NHL and the Vezina Trophy awarded to the highest goalkeeper. In 1972 and 1974 he received the Vezina.
It breaks our hearts to have misplaced a legend in Tony Esposito, who handed away as we speak after a quick battle with pancreatic most cancers.#TonyO ️
“Tony was some of the essential and well-liked folks in franchise historical past once we turned 100.
“4 generations of our household – my grandfather Arthur, my father Invoice, my son Danny, and I – have been blessed by his work ethic as a Corridor of Fame goalkeeper, however extra importantly, by his sheer presence and spirit.”
The Esposito household referred to as him a “Corridor of Fame Husband, Father, and Grandfather”.
“Chicago has felt at residence since arriving in 1969 due to the Wirtz household and the 18,000 Chicago followers who handled him like household each night time on the stadium, whether or not they win or lose or tie,” mentioned the household in an evidence.
Esposito was from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, simply throughout the St. Mary’s River from Michigan’s Higher Peninsula, and he helped Michigan Tech win an NCAA championship in 1965. His older brother Phil was a star himself, a Corridor of Fame middle who performed 18 seasons within the NHL.
The youthful Esposito’s first NHL begin was on December 5, 1968 in opposition to Boston – and his brother. Phil Esposito scored twice in opposition to his youthful brother, however Tony made 33 saves and the sport ended 2-2.
“Tony has left an indelible mark”
In a press release, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman provided condolences to the Esposito household.
“The Nationwide Hockey League … and town of Chicago misplaced a beloved one within the hockey household with the loss of life of Tony Esposito as we speak,” mentioned Bettman.
“From arriving within the Windy Metropolis within the late Sixties, to an illustrious gaming profession and a long time as a franchise icon, Tony made an indelible mark on each the ice and the neighborhood over the subsequent 52 years.
“Other than the person awards – and there have been many, together with a Calder Trophy, quite a few All-Star and Vezina Trophy awards, and finally an election for the Hockey Corridor of Fame – it was Esposito’s model, charisma, and coronary heart who made him the preferred with hockey followers, not simply in Chicago however throughout the NHL. ‘Tony O’ was a fierce competitor who additionally took nice delight in being an entertainer, whether or not it’s together with his groundbreaking butterfly model throughout his enjoying time or interacting with followers throughout the league as one of many recreation’s nice ambassadors.
“The hockey world will miss him very a lot.”
Esposito’s legacy in Chicago
Esposito led Chicago to the playoffs in 14 seasons. Chicago reached the Stanley Cup closing in 1971 and 1973, shedding to its former staff Montreal every time.
He’s Chicago’s profession chief with 418 wins and 74 shutouts. His general document of 423-306-151 ranks tenth in league historical past. In 1988 he was inducted into the Corridor of Fame and joined his brother. And in 2017 he was chosen by the league as one of many “100 finest gamers in NHL historical past”.
Chicago withdrew Espositos No. 35 on November 20, 1988 and honored him once more on March 19, 2008. In a pre-game ceremony attended by franchise icons and former teammates Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and he was named staff ambassador Denis Savard, in addition to his brother.
“It is an important feeling to be again on this ice – I actually miss it, I will inform you,” Esposito mentioned when the gang chanted his title. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be right here once more [with Chicago]. “
Esposito additionally served as common supervisor of the Pittsburgh Penguins and chief scout in Tampa Bay, the place he was employed by his brother. Phil is 79 and works on the radio for Lightning, a staff he co-founded.
“Tony was a founding and cornerstone of the Lightning household, a fixture in video games and, alongside together with his brother Phil, performed an integral position in laying the muse for a profitable franchise within the Sunshine State when many thought it was unimaginable . ” mentioned the lightning in a press release. “His position can’t be underestimated. Tony was a real legend on and off the ice.”
Former Chicago protection legal professional Doug Wilson referred to as the information of his pal and mentor’s loss of life “heartbreaking”.
“He exuded management and sophistication, and was some of the dominant gamers in his place,” mentioned Wilson, common supervisor of the San Jose Sharks.
Esposito leaves behind his spouse Marilyn, sons Mark and Jason, Mark’s spouse Kim and their kids Lauren and Kamryn.