Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito dies at 78 after battle with pancreatic cancer – .

Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito dies at 78 after battle with pancreatic cancer – .

CHICAGO (AP) – Tony Esposito, the pioneering Hall of Fame goaltender who played most of his 16-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks, has died following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, has the team announced on Tuesday. He was 78 years old.
Esposito made his debut for Montreal in the 1968-69 season and played in 13 games. He was then left unprotected with the Canadiens among goaltenders and taken by the Blackhawks in a intraleague draft for $ 25,000, an investment that immediately paid dividends for a team that finished last in their division.

Esposito helped lead the Blackhawks to first place, showcasing his butterfly style to post a 2.17 goals-against average and 15 shutouts, still a modern record for an NHL goaltender. He won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year as well as the Vézina Trophy awarded to the best goaltender. He also won the Vézina in 1972 and 1974.

“Tony was one of the most important and popular figures in franchise history as he approached his 100th birthday,” said Blackhawks president Rocky Wirtz. “Four generations of our family – my grandfather Arthur, my father Bill, my son Danny and I – have been blessed by his work ethic as a Hall of Fame goaltender, but more importantly, by his work ethic as a Hall of Fame goaltender. simple presence and spirit. “

Esposito was from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Just across the St. Mary’s River from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and he helped Michigan Tech win an NCAA Championship in 1965. His older brother, Phil, was a star in his own right, a Hall of Fame center who played 18 seasons in the NHL.

Young Esposito’s first start in the NHL came on Dec.5, 1958 against Boston – and his brother. Phil Esposito scored twice against his younger brother, but Tony made 33 saves and the game ended 2-2.

Commissioner Gary Bettman called him a “beloved member of the hockey family”.

“It was Esposito’s style, charisma and heart that he loved the most among hockey fans, not only in Chicago, but throughout the NHL,” said Bettman. “He will be sadly missed by the hockey world. “

Esposito helped Chicago advance to the playoffs in 14 seasons. The Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup final in 1971 and 1973, losing each time to their former team, Montreal.

He is Chicago’s career leader with 418 wins and 74 shutouts. His overall record of 423-306-151 ranks 10th in league history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, joining his brother.

The Blackhawks retired Esposito’s number 35 on November 20, 1988 and honored him again on March 19, 2008. He was named the team’s ambassador at a pre-game ceremony attended by the icons of franchise and former teammates Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. In 2017, he was selected by the league as one of the “100 Greatest Players in NHL History”.

Esposito is survived by his wife Marilyn, his sons Mark and Jason and his grandchildren Lauren and Kamryn. His brother, Phil, is 79 and works on radio for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which he helped found.


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