Tony Esposito was one of the first hockey players I ever remember. I soon learned he had a brother Phil, who actually played for my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, but prior to Tony. Phil was traded to Boston after the 1966-67 season Tony was traded to Chicago for the 1969-70 season. Both went on to have Hall of Fame careers.
Phil really blossomed with the Bruins and played with them until being traded to the New York Rangers in the 1975-76 season. He retired after the 1980-21 season, having been a 10 time All-Star. He won the Art Ross trophy (Most points) 5 times, the Hart Memorial trophy (MVP) twice and the Ted Lindsay (most outstanding player) trophy twice.
With all of those awards, what was the topic of our conversation at The National earlier this year? We talked about our eyes. We were both wearing shaded lenses and Phil asked if I wanted a pic without the glasses. I declined and that sent us into a chat on eye sight, surgery and light sensitivity. It was an unusual conversation and it was unusually long for this situation, but I enjoyed my time with Phil.
Phil was like a cool Italian uncle. When I first approached him, he asked for my name and he immediately started calling me "Johnny."
He was a total class act in his career and now. It was a real pleasure meeting and talking to him.
Phil Esposito and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.