Tony Esposito

Tony Esposito

Infobox Ice Hockey Player

image_size =
position = Goaltender
played_for = "WHL"
Vancouver Canucks
Houston Apollos
Montreal Canadiens
Chicago Black Hawks
caught = Right
height_ft = 5
height_in = 11
weight_lb = 185
nationality = CAN
nationality_2 = USA
birth_date = birth date and age|1943|04|23
birth_place = Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CAN
career_start = 1967
career_end = 1984
halloffame = 1988
"For the Italian musician, please see Tony Esposito (musician)".

Anthony James "Tony O" Esposito (born April 23, 1943 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) is a retired professional ice hockey goaltender, who played in the National Hockey League, most notably for the Chicago Black Hawks. He is considered one of the pioneers of the now popular butterfly style.

Hockey career

Early years

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

A three-year hockey letterwinner, 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 Vancouver in the Western Hockey League in 1967–68 and played with the Houston Apollos in the Central League in 1968–69.

He first played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1968–69 season. A famous game against the Boston Bruins, led by his brother Phil, ended in a 2–2 tie, in which Phil scored both goals for Boston. The Canadiens club was very deep in goaltenders at that time, with Gump Worsley, Rogie Vachon and others in the system. As a result, Esposito was left unprotected by the Canadiens in 1969.

Rise to fame

For 1969–70, the Chicago Black Hawks (the team name during Esposito's playing days) 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 15 shutouts. Having not played enough games with Montreal, he was still eligible for, and won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie. He also took the Vezina Trophy and was named to the First All-Star team at season's end. He also balloted second for league MVP (Hart Trophy). It was during this record setting season he earned the nickname Tony 'O'. 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 finals, but lost in 7 games to Montreal. The following season he posted the lowest GAA of his career (1.77) and shared the Vezina with backup Gary Smith. He was again selected to the NHL's 1st 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 the lowest GAA of the three goalies who appeared in the series.

Despite the loss of Bobby Hull, Esposito and the Hawks led their division in 1972–73, but lost the Stanley Cup in 6 games to Montreal. 1973–74 was another brilliant season with a sparkling 2.04 GAA and 10 shutouts. Esposito won his 3rd Vezina, sharing it with Philadelphia's Bernie Parent.

The Black Hawks declined the next few seasons although Esposito remained among the top netminders in the NHL. In 1979–80, Esposito enjoyed a fine season with 6 shutouts and his third 1st All-Star team selection. In 1981 he adopted an American citizenship and played for Team USA in the Canada Cup (he had previously represented Canada at the 1977 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament). He played a few more seasons in the Windy city, retiring after the 1983–84 season.

Tony Esposito is the younger brother of Phil Esposito, who also played for Team Canada during the Summit Series of 1972.


*Tony O. was one of just eight goalies to win the Vezina catching the puck right-handed. The other seven were fellow Hawks' legend Charlie Gardiner (in 1932 and 1934), the New York Rangers' Davey Kerr (1940), ambidextrous Montreal goalie Bill Durnan (1944—47, 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.

*In a naming oddity, Tony's first name is the same as his older brother's middle name.


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

Tony Esposito later became General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins rather briefly, where he hired former Black Hawks teammate Gene Ubriaco as head coach, until they were both terminated.

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.

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

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

Awards and Accomplishments

*Stanley Cup Champion (1969)
*Calder Memorial Trophy (1970)
*NHL First All-Star Team Goalie (1970, 1972, 1980)
*NHL Second All-Star Team Goalie (1973, 1974)
*Vezina Trophy (1970, 1972, 1974)
*Member of Canadian national team at 1972 Summit Series and 1977 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament
*Played for United States national team in the 1981 Canada Cup

In popular culture

* Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) wears Esposito's jersey while playing road hockey in "Wayne's World" and "Wayne's World 2".
* He made an appearance in the second season of Rent-a-Goalie playing poker alongside his brother Phil.

See also

* Notable families in the NHL

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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