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. In 2017 Esposito was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988|
Esposito in 1973
April 23, 1943|
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)|
Chicago Black Hawks
A three-year hockey letter winner, Esposito was a three-time first-team All-America selection. He was a driving force in helping the Michigan Tech 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.
He first played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1968–69 season. 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. 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
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 Memorial 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 was runner-up for league MVP (Hart Memorial Trophy). It was during this record setting season that he earned the nickname Tony 'O' for his shutout abilities. 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. 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 naturalized American citizen 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 Chicago, retiring after the 1983–84 season.
Esposito is one of just eight goalies to win the Vezina catching the puck right-handed. The other seven are fellow Black Hawks' legend Charlie Gardiner (in 1932 and 1934), the New York Rangers' Davey Kerr (1940), ambidextrous Montreal goalie Bill Durnan (1944–1947, 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.
Esposito was the first NHL goaltender to officially wear the number 35, a common number now worn by many goaltenders. It was assigned to him during training camp prior to the Chicago Black Hawks's 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 team, 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.
He retired from professional play in 1984 and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. His number 35 was retired by the Blackhawks.
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 honours
|All-WCHA First Team||1964–65|
|AHCA West All-American||1964–65|
|All-NCAA All-Tournament First Team||1965|
|All-WCHA First Team||1965–66|
|AHCA West All-American||1965–66|
|All-WCHA First Team||1966–67|
|AHCA West All-American||1966–67|
- 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).
- NHL All-Star Game Goalie (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980).
- Member of Canada men's national ice hockey team at 1972 Summit Series and 1977 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament.
- Played for US national men's hockey team in the 1981 Canada Cup.
- His #35 was retired by the Chicago Blackhawks on November 20, 1988.
- In 1998, he was ranked number 79 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
Regular season and playoffs
|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||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1969–70||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||63||38||17||9||3763||136||15||2.17||.932||8||4||4||480||27||0||3.38||.907|
|1970–71||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||57||35||14||6||3325||126||6||2.27||.919||18||11||7||1151||42||2||2.19||.928|
|1971–72||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||48||31||10||6||2780||82||9||1.77||.934||5||2||3||300||16||0||3.20||.895|
|1972–73||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||56||32||17||7||3340||140||4||2.51||.917||15||10||5||895||46||1||3.08||.898|
|1973–74||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||34||14||21||4143||141||10||2.04||.928||10||6||4||584||28||2||2.88||.911|
|1974–75||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||71||34||30||7||4219||193||6||2.74||.905||8||3||5||472||34||0||4.32||.878|
|1975–76||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||68||30||23||13||4003||198||4||2.97||.904||4||0||4||240||13||0||3.25||.901|
|1976–77||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||69||25||36||8||4067||234||2||3.45||.900||2||0||2||120||6||0||3.00||.915|
|1977–78||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||68||28||22||14||3840||168||5||2.63||.914||4||0||4||252||19||0||4.52||.838|
|1978–79||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||63||24||28||11||3780||206||4||3.27||.901||4||0||4||243||14||0||3.46||.889|
|1979–80||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||69||31||22||16||4140||205||6||2.97||.903||6||3||3||373||14||0||2.25||.924|
|1980–81||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||66||29||23||14||3935||246||0||3.75||.890||3||0||3||215||15||0||4.19||.878|
|1981–82||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||52||19||25||8||3069||231||1||4.52||.867||7||3||3||381||16||1||2.52||.917|
|1982–83||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||39||23||11||5||2340||135||1||3.46||.888||5||3||2||311||18||0||3.47||.889|
|1983–84||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||18||5||10||3||1095||88||1||4.82||.859||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
In popular culture
- List of NHL goaltenders with 300 wins
- Notable families in the NHL
- Pelletier, Joe. "Tony Esposito". blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "Tony Esposito". canadiens.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "100 Greatest NHL Players". National Hockey League. January 27, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- 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.
- "Esposito's Legends of Hoc". legendsofhockey.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "Tony Esposito". virb.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "NCAA Frozen Four Records" (PDF). NCAA.org. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- "Tony Esposito's wife hopes sons won't be hockey stars". Google. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "Tony Esposito". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "Tony Esposito". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tony Esposito.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tony Esposito|
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Tony Esposito biography at The Goaltender Home Page - advanced statistics and game logs
| Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy
and Jacques Plante
| Winner of the Vezina Trophy
and Gilles Villemure
and Gilles Villemure
| Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Gary Smith
| Winner of the Vezina Trophy
tied with Bernie Parent
| NHLPA President
February 10, 1981 – October 24, 1984
| General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins