More than just “Phil’s little brother,” an outstanding NHL goaltender and player in his own right.
Born April 23, 1943 in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Tony Esposito grew up blocking his big brother Phil’s shots in the family driveway. Boys often follow the paths of their big brothers and Tony followed his all the way to the NHL, where he carved out his own space in hockey history as a goaltender.
After winning a hockey scholarship to Michigan Tech University, Esposito began playing professional hockey in 1967. He joined the Montreal Canadiens for 13 games of the 1968-69 season before being drafted by the Chicago Black Hawks. He stayed with the Hawks until he retired after the 1983-84 season.
Over the course of his career, Esposito played 886 NHL games, with 423 wins, 306 losses and 152 draws. His 76 shutouts made him an all-time top ten leader and he boasted an impressive 2.92 goals-against-average. Of the 99 playoff games he participated in, Esposito won 45 and lost 53 with a 3.07 average.
Esposito’s abilities earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding rookie after the 1969-70 season, in which he had an incredible 15 shutouts.
In addition, he earned the Vezina Trophy in 1970 and 1972 (with Gary Smith), and tied for it (with Bernie Parent) in 1974. He was named to the NHL All-Star Team from 1970-1974, and in 1980.
One of Esposito’s most prized moments came in 1972 when he and Ken Dryden shared the goaltending duties for Team Canada in a victorious series against the Soviet Nationals in what was dubbed the “Series of the Century.”
Esposito retired from hockey after the 1983-84 season. He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.