All Time Blackhawks

Throwback Thursday: Tony Esposito

By Josh Brink
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Chicago Blackhawks Goaltender Tony Esposito (Photo courtesy of blackhawks.nhl.com)

Once again during the 1970-71 season Tony Esposito shined in his new role tallying a career low goals against average of 1.77 and was awarded the Vezina trophy again, this time sharing it with Blackhawks backup goalie Gary Smith. The team won the NHL West division that year and came close to winning a Stanley Cup but they were defeated in 7 games vs. his former team the Montreal Canadiens.

During the 1972-73 season the Blackhawks were one of the best teams in the league, even after losing one of their best players of all-time, Bobby Hull to the newly formed AHL/Winnipeg Jets. They made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final but once again lost again to the pesky Montreal Canadiens. Tony Esposito followed up that season with another terrific one in 1973-74 with a 2.04 GAA and 10 shutouts while earning the Vezina Trophy which was also shared with Philadelphia goaltender Bernie Parent.

Tony Esposito continued to play very good hockey over the next several seasons but the Blackhawks as a team did not and they began to decline over the next several years. During the 1979-80 season he put up stellar numbers with 31 wins and 6 shutouts which earned him his third selection to the First All-Star team.  Esposito finally called it quits after playing all but one season with the Blackhawks in 1985. In 1988 soon after retirement his #35 jersey was hung to rest in the rafters by the Blackhawks to pay respect to the great career he played for them and the city of Chicago. In 2008 the Blackhawks organization held a Tony Esposito night on March 19 where they introduced him as the new Ambassador of the Blackhawks.

Notable accomplishments:

  • Stanley Cup Champion (1969)
  • Calder Memorial Trophy (1970)
  • Vezina Trophy (1970, 1972, 1974)
  • NHL All-Star Game Goalie (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980)
  • Chicago Blackhawks all-time shutouts leader (74)
  • Chicago Blackhawks and NHL single season record for shutouts (15)
  • Seven-consecutive seasons with 30-plus wins (1969-1976)
  • Chicago Blackhawks career wins leader (418)

Any Tony Esposito fans out there on Throwback Thursday? Let me know what your thoughts are or any specific memories you may have in the comments below!

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