Bob Essensa

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Bob Essensa
Born (1965-01-14) January 14, 1965 (age 49)
Toronto, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Winnipeg Jets
Detroit Red Wings
Edmonton Oilers
Phoenix Coyotes
Vancouver Canucks
Buffalo Sabres
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 69th overall, 1983
Winnipeg Jets
Playing career 1987–2002

Robert Earle Essensa (born January 14, 1965) is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey goaltender who spent 12 seasons in the National Hockey League. Currently, he serves as the goaltending coach for the Boston Bruins.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Junior 'B' career[edit]

Essensa was the number one goaltender for the 1982-83 Henry Carr Crusaders Metro Junior 'B' Championship team which never lost a game in regular season play (34 wins, 0 losses, 2 ties) and only two playoff games - one in the Ontario Hockey Association's Semi-finals against the Streetsville Derbys. The Crusaders went on to capture the Ontario Hockey Association's Junior 'B' Championship and along with it, the Sutherland Cup, after defeating the Stratford Cullitons in the final. (Following five rounds of playoffs, what it took to win the Sutherland Cup, the Crusaders had accumulated 54 wins, 2 losses, 2 ties, and 2 losses in overtime in 60 regulation games.)

He was also MVP of the league's mid-season all-star game held in Trenton, Ontario, Canada as the best of the Fullan Division defeated the stars of the Ruddock Division, 3-1.

College career[edit]

Essensa was selected in the fourth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, 69th overall, by the Winnipeg Jets after dominating Junior B hockey in the Toronto area.

Following the 1983 Draft, Essensa played for Michigan State University and posted an overall record of 62–13–2 in his four years at Michigan State. He named the CCHA First Team All-Star his sophomore year and won the CCHA and NCAA Championships with Michigan State in his Junior year. He graduated as the school's all-time leader in GAA and shutouts, although both records have since been broken.

Professional career[edit]

After spending his first professional season entirely in the AHL, Essensa made his NHL debut during the 1988–89 season, and posted a 6–8–3 record in 20 games. His workload increased to 36 games in 1989–90, and he took over as Winnipeg's starting goaltender the following season. For four seasons, he was a workhorse for the Jets, averaging nearly 60 games per year.

Essensa and the Jets suffered through a dismal 1993–94 campaign, struggling to the second-worst record in the league next to the expansion Ottawa Senators. However, fortune seemed to deal him a break as he was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline. A legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup, Detroit had been let down in previous seasons by poor goaltending and Essensa, just two years removed from his Vezina nomination and a college star in the area at Michigan State, was considered an ideal solution. However, it proved to be a disaster as he posted a disappointing 4–7–1 record down the stretch and struggled in the playoffs, ultimately being usurped by rookie Chris Osgood.

Things went from bad to worse for Essensa in 1994–95, as Detroit acquired star veteran Mike Vernon to partner Osgood. In the span of a few months, he went from a legitimate NHL starter to Detroit's 4th-string goalie, as the team preferred to call up prospect Kevin Hodson when insurance was needed. Exiled to the minors, he spent the next two seasons in the International Hockey League, and his NHL career seemed all but over.

Essensa finally escaped the Red Wings organization when he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for the 1996–97 season. He spent the next two seasons backing up Curtis Joseph for the Oilers, and although his workload was limited behind one of the top goalies in the league, he re-established himself as a solid NHL goaltender and an above-average backup. When Joseph left Edmonton as a free agent in 1998, Essensa's responsibilities increased, as he split the goaltending duties evenly in 1998–99 with the newly acquired Mikhail Shtalenkov. While neither goalie performed poorly, it represented a significant drop-off from Joseph and the team eventually acquired Tommy Salo late in the season to take over as the starter.

For 1999–2000, Essensa signed with the Phoenix Coyotes. The move represented a homecoming of sorts, as the Winnipeg Jets had moved to Phoenix in 1996, and gave him an opportunity to extend his franchise records for games played and wins by a goalie. Ironically, he was again partnered with Shtalenkov in Phoenix, and the tandem perhaps unsurprisingly failed to deliver much better results. Shtalenkov was dealt mid-season in a deal for Sean Burke, and Essensa finished the season as Burke's backup, posting a solid 13–10–3 record in 30 games.

Essensa was on the move again for the 2000–01 campaign, this time signing with the Vancouver Canucks to back up Félix Potvin. 'Backup Bob' quickly became a fan favourite in Vancouver, as he outplayed the highly paid Potvin by a wide margin. He was cheered wildly in most appearances by Canuck fans who were frustrated that the struggling Potvin continued to get the majority of the team's starts while Essensa, playing his best hockey in nearly a decade, was clearly giving the team a better chance to win. Ultimately, Potvin was shipped out of Vancouver and replaced by Dan Cloutier, and Essensa and Cloutier split the goaltending duties as the Canucks were knocked out of the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche. Essensa finished the year with an 18–12–3 mark in 39 appearances, his highest win total since 1994.

After Vancouver somewhat controversially failed to give him a serious contract offer, Essensa signed with the Buffalo Sabres for the 2001–02 season. However, he was unable to recapture his heroics of the previous year, posting an 0–5 record in 9 appearances for the Sabres before retiring at the conclusion of the season.

Essensa finished his career with a 173–176–47 record in 446 career NHL appearances, along with 17 shutouts and a 3.15 GAA. He has served as the goaltending coach for the Boston Bruins since 2003. Bob Essensa got his name on the Stanley Cup with Boston Bruins in 2011.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

   
Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1982–83 Henry Carr Crusaders MJBHL[2] 31 - - - 1840 98 2 3.20
1983–84 Michigan State Spartans CCHA 17 11 4 0 947 44 2 2.79
1984–85 Michigan State Spartans CCHA 18 15 2 0 1059 29 2 1.64
1985–86 Michigan State Spartans CCHA 23 17 4 1 1333 74 1 3.33
1986–87 Michigan State Spartans CCHA 25 19 3 1 1383 64 2 2.78
1987–88 Moncton Hawks AHL 27 7 11 1 1287 100 1 4.66 .863
1988–89 Winnipeg Jets NHL 20 6 8 3 1102 68 1 3.70 .882
1988–89 Fort Wayne Komets IHL 22 14 7 0 1287 70 0 3.26
1989–90 Moncton Hawks AHL 6 3 3 0 358 15 0 2.51 .917
1989–90 Winnipeg Jets NHL 36 18 9 5 2035 107 1 3.15 .892
1990–91 Moncton Hawks AHL 2 1 0 1 125 6 0 2.88 .889
1990–91 Winnipeg Jets NHL 55 19 24 6 2916 153 4 3.15 .898
1991–92 Winnipeg Jets NHL 47 21 17 6 2627 126 5 2.88 .910
1992–93 Winnipeg Jets NHL 67 33 26 6 3855 227 2 3.53 .893
1993–94 Winnipeg Jets NHL 56 19 30 6 3136 201 1 3.85 .883
1993–94 Detroit Red Wings NHL 13 4 7 2 777 34 1 2.63 .899
1994–95 San Diego Gulls IHL 16 6 8 1 919 52 0 3.39 .900
1995–96 Fort Wayne Komets IHL 45 24 14 5 2529 122 1 2.89 .912
1995–96 Adirondack Red Wings AHL 3 1 2 0 178 11 0 3.71 .879
1996–97 Edmonton Oilers NHL 19 4 8 0 879 41 1 2.80 .899
1997–98 Edmonton Oilers NHL 16 6 6 1 825 35 0 2.55 .913
1998–99 Edmonton Oilers NHL 39 12 14 6 2091 96 0 2.75 .901
1999–2000 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 30 13 10 3 1573 73 1 2.78 .898
2000–01 Vancouver Canucks NHL 39 18 12 3 2059 92 1 2.68 .892
2001–02 Buffalo Sabres NHL 9 0 5 0 350 17 0 2.91 .850
NHL totals 446 173 176 47 24215 1270 18 3.15 .895

Post-season[edit]

   
Season Team League GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1989–90 Winnipeg Jets NHL 4 2 1 206 12 0 3.50 .880
1991–92 Winnipeg Jets NHL 1 0 0 33 3 0 5.45 .824
1992–93 Winnipeg Jets NHL 6 2 4 367 20 0 3.27 .891
1993–94 Detroit Red Wings NHL 2 0 2 109 9 0 4.95 .791
1994–95 San Diego Gulls IHL 1 0 1 59 3 0 3.05
1995–96 Fort Wayne Komets IHL 5 2 3 298 12 0 2.42
1997–98 Edmonton Oilers NHL 1 0 0 27 1 0 2.31 .909
2000–01 Vancouver Canucks NHL 2 0 2 122 6 0 2.95 .897
NHL totals 16 4 9 864 51 0 3.54 .876

Awards and honours[edit]

Award Year
All-CCHA First Team 1984-85
All-CCHA Second Team 1985-86

References[edit]

External links[edit]