02/06/2008 2:48 PM
- From ChicagoBlackhawks.com: (link)
Former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender and Hockey Hall of Fame member Tony Esposito has joined the Chicago Blackhawks family as an official Blackhawks Ambassador. Esposito will join Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in representing the Chicago Blackhawks at events at the United Center and throughout the Chicagoland area.
“It is a great honor to be asked back into the Blackhawks family,” said Esposito. “In my heart, I have always been and always will be a Blackhawk. I want to thank Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough for giving me the opportunity to come back to the Blackhawks organization. I love the new approach the team is taking. Everything about the Blackhawks is very upbeat and I am proud to be a part of this new beginning.”
“We’re very excited to have Tony Esposito join Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita as Blackhawks ambassadors,” said Blackhawks Team President John McDonough. “Tony is a Hall of Fame goaltender and one of the greatest players to ever wear the Blackhawks jersey. I’m sure all our fans will join me and the entire Blackhawks organization in welcoming Tony Esposito back into the Blackhawks family.”
Tony Esposito will be honored in special pre-game ceremonies prior to the game on Wednesday night, March 19th, when the Blackhawks play host to the Washington Capitals.
Esposito broke into the NHL during the 1968-69 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He appeared in 13 games with a 5-4-4 record and a 2.73 GAA. Esposito was a member of the 1969 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Championship team.
Following the 1968-69 season, the Blackhawks claimed the rookie goaltender from the Canadiens on June 15, 1969 for $25,000.
That claim paid immediate dividends for the Blackhawks, as Esposito posted a 38-17-8 record and a 2.17 GAA during his rookie season in 1969-70. Esposito captured the Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender) and the Calder Trophy (Top Rookie) and was named to the First-Team All-Star squad.
Esposito also set an NHL record that still stands today, recording 15 shutouts during the 1969-70 season. Esposito is the All-Time Blackhawk career leader with 74 shutouts.
His 38-win season in 1969-70 began a streak of seven consecutive 30+ win seasons for Esposito, who finished his Blackhawk career as the All-Time Blackhawk career leader with 418 wins.
Esposito was a First Team All-Star selection in 1970, 1972, and 1980 and was a Second Team All-Star selection in 1973 and 1974. He shared the Vezina Trophy with teammate Gary Smith in 1972 and shared the Vezina with Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent in 1974. He appeared in six NHL All-Star games, from 1970-74 and 1980), accumulating a 2.55 GAA.
During his 16-year NHL career, Esposito compiled a 423-306-151 record and ranks as the fourth winningest goaltender in NHL history. His 76 career shutouts ranks eighth in NHL history.
Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. He is one of only five players to have jersey number retired by the Blackhawks. Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall and Denis Savard are the others.