Today’s a Phil Esposito kind of day. There are some other notable events, too, but for the most part, today is Espo’s day.
1942: Phil Esposito (full name Philip Anthony Esposito, OC) is born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. While Esposito, a center, started out as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks (then spelled Black Hawks) organization, it was when he was traded to Boston in 1967 that he really began to shine. He passed the century mark, scoring 100 points a season, six times including a consecutive run from 1971 to 1975. He won the Art Ross trophy twice and led the entire league in goals for six straight seasons. As a part of both of the Bruins’ 1970s Stanley Cup champion teams, “Espo” became a legend around Boston. There may still be cars out there with the bumper stickers reading “Jesus saves, Espo scores on the rebound.” He was given the Order of Canada (hence the OC) after a stellar performance in the 1972 Summit Series against the USSR. Scolding the Canadian crowd for booing their home team after a 5-3 loss in the series helped inspire his teammates. After a little time with New York, he retired in 1981 and served as the Rangers’ GM and coach. He was famous for making lots of trades during that tenure. Then, it was down to Florida to help found the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early 1990s. Today, he still serves as their radio color commentator. He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his number is retired with the Bruins. In fact, during a jersey retirement ceremony in 1984, Ray Bourque gave up wearing the number 7 so it could be retired, revealing a #77 jersey under the old number in Esposito’s presence. This moved Esposito practically to tears. His record is studded with all sorts of impressive achievements and he even has a statue now outside the Tampa Bay Times Arena.
1940: Before the Bruins shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0, Toronto’s captain Red Horner gave a female fan a bouquet of roses. She had been injured in a Dec. 19 game when Conn Smythe, who was protesting a call, fell off the boards.
1971: Esposito scores 50 goals in a single season. At that time, he is only the fourth player in the league to do so. The Bruins lose the game in which he scores #50, 5-4 to Los Angeles.
1972: Esposito scores his 50th goal of a single season again, scoring against his brother Tony in a 3-1 Bruins victory over Chicago. (Yes, it was exactly a year after the first time he hit the threshold for the Rocket Richard trophy.)
1974: Esposito scores his 50th goal of a season for the fourth time during a 5-5 tie with the Minnesota North Stars.
1979: Peter McNab and Terry O’Reilly each have a five-point game (two goals and three assists for McNab; one goal and four assists for O’Reilly) as Boston wins 5-3 over the old Colorado Rockies.
1980: The Bruins are shut out by the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0. This is the first time they had been shut out since Oct. 26, 1977–a team record of 209 games.
A year ago today: The Bruins host their Casino Night to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston.