The Windy City isn’t the only place mourning the death of NHL phenom Tony Esposito. The All-Star hockey player was loved throughout the sporting industry, leaving behind a legacy. Officials released the cause of his death Tuesday. Sadly, the longtime goalie lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, a spokesman said. Esposito was 78.
Furthermore, the goaltender leaves behind his wife, two sons and two grandchildren. Esposito will be remembered for his contributions to the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
“Likewise, four generations of hockey fans grew to love Tony. We were lucky enough to draft him from the Montreal Canadiens on June 15, 1969, for a sum of $25,000,” Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. “The Blackhawks had finished in last place of the East Division the previous season. Tony immediately took over as the No. 1 goalie, and led the Blackhawks to an unprecedented leap to first place in his first season while registering 15 shutouts, still a modern record.”
The goalie didn’t retire until 1988. After a brief stint in Canada, he made his way to the Chicago Blackhawks where he played the remainder of his career. The star athlete retired in 1988 and was also inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in the same year. His jersey was retired by the Blackhawks the same year as well.
“It was Esposito’s style, charisma and heart that endeared him most to hockey fans not only in Chicago but across the NHL,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, according to ESPN. “The hockey world will miss him greatly.”
Tony Esposito’s Long NHL Career
Interestingly, when the Blackhawks drafted Esposito in 1969, he was a rookie – or at least considered to be. The goalie quickly showcased his value and aided the Blackhawks team immensely.
Rising to superstardom for his talent, Esposito was also named an All-Star five times in his career. The star had a career record of 418-302. He boasted an impressive 2.93 goals against average.
Additionally, Esposito received the coveted Vezina Trophy. This was an honor for the best goalie in the league each year. For his efforts, Esposito received this award three times throughout his career. The star goalie played with the Chicago Blackhawks for a total of 15 years.
“The hockey world will miss him greatly. The NHL family extends its deepest sympathies to his wife, Marilyn, sons Mark (Kim) and Jason, and grandchildren Lauren and Kamryn,” Bettman shared in a statement released by the league.
Esposito’s brother Phil Esposito was also a hockey talent. Inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame prior to Tony Esposito, he paved the way for the family sport.
While it’s a sad day for Chicago fans, the sport’s greatest analyzers will always remember Esposito. His contributions will live on for years to come.