The hockey world is in mourning again today, as it says goodbye to one of its own. Tony Esposito has passed away at the age of 78 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The Chicago Blackhawks announced the news with a long letter to the Esposito family from team chairman Rocky Wirtz.
…Tony was one of the most important and popular figures in the history of the franchise as we near its 100th anniversary. Four generations of our family — my grandfather Arthur, my father Bill, my son Danny and I — were blessed by his work ethic as a Hall of Fame goalie, but more importantly, by his mere presence and spirit.
Upon his retirement in 1984, Esposito went down as one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play in the NHL. Only 12 men in the history of the game have won the Vezina Trophy at least three times, and Esposito was one of them, taking home the award in 1970, 1972 and 1974. Though he started his career with the Montreal Canadiens, he will always be remembered as a member of the Blackhawks. He is the franchise leader in games played, wins, saves, and shutouts. He won the Calder Trophy in 1970 as the league’s best rookie, was a five-time NHL All-Star, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. He was named to the list of 100 Greatest NHL players in 2017.
It wasn’t just his success, but the flair and style of how Esposito stopped the puck that created so many fans across the hockey world. Though he entered front offices including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning in retirement, his connection to Chicago was for life. In 2016 at the Winter Classic, it was Esposito who served as coach of the Blackhawks alumni team taking on the St. Louis Blues.
The entire staff at PHR sends our condolences to the Esposito family.