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For the Italianmarker musician, please see Tony Esposito .

Anthony James "Tony O" Esposito (born April 23, 1943 in Sault Ste.marker Marie, Ontariomarker) is a retired 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.

Hockey career

Early years

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

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.

He first played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1968–69 season. A famous game against the Boston Bruins, then led by his brother Phil, ended in a 2–2 tie, in which Phil scored both goals for Boston. Esposito played thirteen regular season games, due to both Gump Worsley and Rogie 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 (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 fifteen shutouts, for which he 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 was runner-up 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 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 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 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 1st 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). 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.


  • 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 Famemarker in 1988. His number 35 was retired by the Blackhawks.

Tony Esposito later became General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins 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, 61 places behind No. 18-ranked Phil.

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 accomplishments

In popular culture

Career statistics

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 1 2.35
1965–66 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA 19 1 2.68
1966–67 Michigan Tech Huskies WCHA 15 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 Blackhawks NHL 63 38 17 9 3763 136 15 2.17
1970–71 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 57 35 14 6 3325 126 6 2.27 .920
1971–72 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 48 31 10 6 2780 82 9 1.77
1972–73 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 56 32 17 7 3340 140 4 2.51
1973–74 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 70 34 14 21 4143 141 10 2.04
1974–75 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 71 34 30 7 4219 193 6 2.74 .905
1975–76 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 68 30 23 13 4003 198 4 2.97 .905
1976–77 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 69 25 36 8 4067 234 2 3.45
1977–78 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 68 28 22 14 3840 168 5 2.63
1978–79 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 63 24 28 11 3780 206 4 3.27
1979–80 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 69 31 22 16 4140 205 6 2.97
1980–81 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 66 29 23 14 3935 246 0 3.75
1981–82 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 52 19 25 8 3069 231 1 4.52 .867
1982–83 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 39 23 11 5 2340 135 1 3.46 .888
1983–84 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 18 5 10 3 1095 88 1 4.82 .859
NHL totals 886 423 306 151 52,583 2563 76 2.92

See also

External links

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