Legendary Chicago Blackhawk goaltender Tony Esposito passed away from pancreatic cancer earlier this month.
Tony Esposito was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and was the younger brother of fellow NHL legend Phil.
He broke into the NHL with the Montréal Canadiens in 1968-69 but played only thirteen games. Therefore the following 1969-70 season when he exploded onto the hockey scene with the Blackhawks is classified as his rookie season. In it he recorded fifteen shutouts which continues to stand as the most by any goaltender since 1942 and also earned him the nickname Tony 'O'. His Goals Against Average was a parsimonious 2.17. This garnered him both the Calder Trophy for the rookie of the year and the Vezina Trophy for the lowest GAA. He would win the Vezina twice more in 1972 and 1974. He was also the First Team All-Star in 1970, 1972 and 1980 and the Second Team All-Star in 1973 and 1974.
Ironically Tony's Blackhawks were eliminated by brother Phil's Boston Bruins in the 1970 playoffs. With Tony Esposito the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup Final against the Montréal Canadiens in both 1971 and 1973 but lost in seven and six games respectively.
Tony Esposito was part of Team Canada for the Summit Series against the Soviet Union in September 1972. He posted the lowest GAA and the highest Save % of the three goaltenders (Esposito, Ken Dryden and Vladislav Tretiak) who played in the series.
He retired from after the 1983-84 season and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. His number 35 was retired by the Blackhawks on 20 November 1988. He was ranked 79th on The Hockey News' list of the Greatest Hockey Players in 1998.
Truly sad that another legendary great has left us.