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phil-esposito

Phil Esposito

  • Sport: Hockey
  • Decade Inducted: 80s

A celebrated NHL top scorer and one of the greatest hockey players of all time.

Although born in Sault St. Marie, Ontario on February 20, 1942, Phil Esposito was fortunate to grow up in “The Soo” area of Chicago, where minor league hockey was supported. It was here Esposito got his start before embarking on a victorious NHL career.

He began his professional hockey career in 1961 in the minor leagues before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1963 as center.

In 1967, Esposito was traded to the Boston Bruins, where he thrived as the leading scorer in the league. He also won the Hart Trophy in the 1968-69 season when he cracked the 100-point barrier.

He was again the league’s top scorer in the 1970-71 season, with 152 points on 76 goals and 76 assists – a single-season mark rarely surpassed. Esposito continued his reign as top scorer for the next three seasons, when he scored, respectively: 66 goals and 67 assists; 55 goals and 75 assists; and 68 goals and 77 assists.

Esposito played a key role in ending the Bruins’ 29-year wait for the Stanley Cup in 1970. They again took the title in 1972. That same year, Esposito was the individual leader and top-point man for Team Canada in the famous “Series of the Century” against the Soviet Union.

While with the Bruins, Esposito won five NHL scoring titles. He was named to the NHL’s All-Star First Team six times and All-Star Second Team twice. He earned the Hart and Pearson Trophies, twice each. In 1978, Esposito received the Patrick Award for his contributions to US hockey.

Esposito was traded to the New York Rangers for the 1975-76 season, where he played until his retirement in 1981. Over an 18-season span, he left a spectacular scoring legacy of 1,590 points on 717 goals and 873 assists in 1,282 games. In 1992, he won the expansion bid with the NHL and founded the Tampa Bay Lighting, serving as the team’s president and general manager until 1998. He remains the team’s radio color commentator today.

He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Hockey Hall of Fame three years later.