Tony Esposito

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For the Italian musician, see Tony Esposito (musician).
Tony Esposito
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988
Tony Esposito 1973.JPG
Esposito in 1973
Born (1943-04-23) April 23, 1943 (age 71)
Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Right
Played for WCHA
 Michigan Tech Huskies
WHL
 Vancouver Canucks
CHL
 Houston Apollos
NHL
 Montreal Canadiens
 Chicago Black Hawks
National team  Canada 
 United States
Playing career 1967–1984

Anthony James "Tony O" Esposito (born April 23, 1943) is a retired Canadian-American professional ice hockey goaltender, who played in the National Hockey League, most notably for the Chicago Black Hawks. He was one of the pioneers of the now popular butterfly style. Tony is the younger brother of Phil Esposito, a centre. Both brothers had notable careers and are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.[1] [2]

Hockey career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Esposito grew up Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with his brother, fellow future NHL star Phil Esposito.[3] He played college hockey for Michigan Tech.[3] [4]

A three-year hockey letter winner, Esposito was a three-time first-team All-America selection. He was a driving force in helping the Huskies to the 1964–65 NCAA Championship and was named a first-team NCAA All-Tournament Team choice in 1965. Still currently the MTU career leader in goals against average (2.55) and second in career saved percentage (.912), Esposito was also a three-time All-WCHA first-team selection.

Esposito turned pro with the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Hockey League in 1967–68 and played with the Houston Apollos in the Central Hockey League in 1968–69.[3]

He first played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1968–69 season.[3] He made his NHL debut against the Oakland Seals, playing 26 minutes in relief of Rogie Vachon. His first NHL start was against the Boston Bruins, then led by his brother Phil.[3] The game ended in a 2–2 tie, in which Phil scored both goals for Boston and Tony made 33 saves. Esposito played thirteen regular season games, due to both Gump Worsley and Vachon being injured. However, Esposito returned to the minors when they both returned from their injuries. Worsley was injured again during the playoffs, so Esposito was called again. Tony Esposito served as backup to Vachon, dressing for all four games in the finals. As the Canadiens club was deep in goaltenders at that time, with Worsley, Vachon and other prospects in the system, Esposito was left unprotected by the Canadiens in 1969.

Rise to fame[edit]

For 1969–70, the Chicago Black Hawks claimed him from Montreal on waivers, known at the time as the "intra-league draft". Esposito had a spectacular season with Chicago, posting a 2.17 GAA and setting a modern day NHL record with fifteen shutouts, for which he won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie.[3] He also took the Vezina Trophy[3] and was named to the First All-Star team at season's end. He also was runner-up for league MVP (Hart Trophy). It was during this record setting season he earned the nickname Tony 'O' for his shutout abilities.[3] In 1970–71, he again proved to be one of the league's top goalies and helped Chicago finish first in the NHL's West division. The Black Hawks made it to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost in seven games to Montreal. The following season he posted the lowest GAA of his career (1.77) and shared the Vezina with backup Gary Smith.[3] He was again selected to the NHL's First All-Star team.

Esposito was named to Team Canada for the Summit Series of September, 1972. He was the first goalie to earn a win against the Soviets, splitting Canada's goaltending duties with Montreal's Ken Dryden. Esposito posted both the lowest GAA and the highest save percentage of the three goalies (Esposito, Ken Dryden, and Vladislav Tretiak) who appeared in the series. Tony's brother Phil had an exceptional series as well and was the inspirational leader of the team.

Despite the loss of Bobby Hull, Esposito and the Hawks led their division in 1972–73, but lost the Stanley Cup in six games to Montreal. 1973–74 was another brilliant season with a sparkling 2.04 GAA and 10 shutouts. Esposito won his third Vezina, sharing it with Philadelphia's Bernie Parent.

The Black Hawks declined over the next few seasons although Esposito remained among the top netminders in the NHL. In 1979–80, Esposito enjoyed a fine season with six shutouts and made the First All-Star team for the third time. In 1981, he became a naturalised American citizen and played for Team USA in the Canada Cup (he had previously represented Canada at the 1977 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament).[3] He played a few more seasons in the Windy City, retiring after the 1983–84 season.

Distinctions[edit]

Esposito was one of just eight goalies to win the Vezina catching the puck right-handed.[3] The other seven were fellow Black Hawks' legend Charlie Gardiner (in 1932 and 1934), the New York Rangers' Davey Kerr (1940), ambidextrous Montreal goalie Bill Durnan (194447, 1949 and 1950), the New York Rangers' Gilles Villemure (1971), Tom Barrasso of the Buffalo Sabres (1984), Edmonton Oilers' Grant Fuhr (1988) and José Théodore of the Montreal Canadiens in 2002.[5]

Esposito was the first NHL Goalie to officially wear the number 35,[3] a common number now worn by many Goaltenders. It was assigned to him during training camp prior to the Chicago Black Hawks 1969-'70 season due to the fact that the standard numbers 1 and 30 were already assigned, and after posting a shutout in his first ever exhibition game for the Hawks, he chose to keep wearing the number going on to a Hall of Fame career. His number 35 was retired by the Blackhawks on November 20, 1988.

Esposito was noted as being superstitious, becoming upset by crossed hockey sticks and regularly lining up his hockey sticks in a particular way.[3]

Retirement[edit]

He retired from professional play in 1985 and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.[3] His number 35 was retired by the Blackhawks.[6]

Esposito later became General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins briefly, where he hired former Black Hawks teammate Gene Ubriaco as head coach. In his first year, the Penguins finished 40-33-7 and ended a lengthy playoff drought. After starting the 1989-90 season 10-14-2, Esposito and Ubriaco were both terminated. During his tenure, Esposito is best known for drafting Mark Recchi and pulling off a trade which landed the Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso.

In 1991, when his brother helped found the Tampa Bay Lightning, Phil hired Tony as chief scout. Legend has it that they came up with the team name during a thunderstorm. Both Espositos were fired in 1998.

In 1998, he was ranked number 79 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, 61 places behind his brother Phil, who ranked number 18.

In 2007, Tony was inducted (alongside brother Phil) into the Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame.

On March 19, 2008, the Chicago Blackhawks honoured Esposito with "Tony Esposito Night", where he was formally introduced as an Ambassador to the Blackhawks organization. Then-Blackhawk goaltenders Patrick Lalime and Nikolai Khabibulin both wore Esposito's #35 jerseys in the pre-game warmups, and Khabibulin recorded a shutout in a Hawks 5–0 win over the Washington Capitals.

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Year
All-WCHA First Team 1964–65
AHCA West All-American 1964–65
All-NCAA All-Tournament First Team 1965 [7]
All-WCHA First Team 1965–66
AHCA West All-American 1965–66
All-WCHA First Team 1966–67
AHCA West All-American 1966–67

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1962–63 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds NOJHA
1963–64 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA
1964–65 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA 17 1020 40 1 2.35
1965–66 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA 19 1140 51 1 2.68
1966–67 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA 15 900 39 0 2.60
1967–68 Vancouver Canucks WHL 63 25 33 4 3734 199 4 3.20
1968–69 Montreal Canadiens NHL 13 5 4 4 746 34 2 2.73
1968–69 Houston Apollos CHL 19 10 7 2 1139 46 1 2.42
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 63 38 17 9 3763 136 15 2.17 .932
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57 35 14 6 3325 126 6 2.27 .920
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 31 10 6 2780 82 9 1.77
1972–73 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 56 32 17 7 3340 140 4 2.51
1973–74 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 34 14 21 4143 141 10 2.04
1974–75 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 71 34 30 7 4219 193 6 2.74 .905
1975–76 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 68 30 23 13 4003 198 4 2.97 .905
1976–77 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 69 25 36 8 4067 234 2 3.45 .900
1977–78 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 68 28 22 14 3840 168 5 2.63 .914
1978–79 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 63 24 28 11 3780 206 4 3.27 .901
1979–80 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 69 31 22 16 4140 205 6 2.97 .903
1980–81 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 66 29 23 14 3935 246 0 3.75 .890
1981–82 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 52 19 25 8 3069 231 1 4.52 .867
1982–83 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 39 23 11 5 2340 135 1 3.46 .867
1983–84 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 18 5 10 3 1095 88 1 4.82 .859
NHL totals 886 423 306 151 52,583 2563 76 2.92

Playoffs[edit]

Season Team League GP W L MIN GA SO GAA
1968–69 Houston Apollos CHL 1 0 1 59 3 0 3.05
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 8 4 4 480 27 0 3.38
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 18 11 7 1151 42 2 2.19
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 5 2 3 300 16 0 3.20
1972–73 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 15 10 5 895 46 1 3.08
1973–74 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 10 6 4 584 28 2 2.88
1974–75 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 8 3 5 472 34 0 4.32
1975–76 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 4 0 4 240 13 0 3.25
1976–77 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 2 0 2 120 6 0 3.00
1977–78 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 4 0 4 252 19 0 4.52
1978–79 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 4 0 4 243 14 0 3.46
1979–80 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 6 3 3 373 14 0 2.25
1980–81 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 3 0 3 215 15 0 4.19
1981–82 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 7 3 3 381 16 1 2.52
1982–83 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 5 3 2 311 18 0 3.47
NHL totals 99 45 53 6017 308 6 3.07

International[edit]

Year Team Event   GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA
1972 Canada Summit-72 4 2 1 1 240 13 0 3.25
1976 Canada WC 9 6 2 1 510 27 1 3.17
1979 NHL All-Stars Ch-Cup
1981 USA Can-Cup 5 2 3 0 300 20 0 4.00
Senior int'l totals 18 10 6 2 1050 60 1 3.43

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pelletier, Joe. "Tony Esposito". blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Tony Esposito". canadiens.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Zeisler, Laurel (19 December 2012). Woronoff, Jon, ed. Historical Dictionary of Ice Hockey. Historical Dictionaries of Sports. Scarecrow Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8108-7863-1. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Esposito's Legends of Hoc". legendsofhockey.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Tony Esposito". virb.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Tony Esposito's wife hopes sons won't be hockey stars". google.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "NCAA Frozen Four Records". NCAA.org. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  8. ^ "Tony Esposito". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Tony Esposito". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Danny Grant
Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy
1970
Succeeded by
Gilbert Perreault
Preceded by
Glenn Hall
and Jacques Plante
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
1970
Succeeded by
Eddie Giacomin
and Gilles Villemure
Preceded by
Eddie Giacomin
and Gilles Villemure
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Gary Smith

1972
Succeeded by
Ken Dryden
Preceded by
Ken Dryden
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
tied with Bernie Parent

1974
Succeeded by
Bernie Parent
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Phil Esposito
NHLPA President
February 10, 1981–October 24, 1984
Succeeded by
Bryan Trottier
Preceded by
Eddie Johnston
General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins
1988–89
Succeeded by
Craig Patrick