The hockey world is still in mourning following the news of the death of one of the game’s all-time greats. The Chicago Blackhawks, on Tuesday, broke the news of the death of former goalie Tony Esposito at the age of 78 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. Esposito’s death also came the same year that the Blackhawks acquired future Hall of Famer goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was rumored to be considering retirement after the Vegas Golden Knights shipped him to Windy City. 

The loss of Tony Esposito is huge for the Blackhawks. Hockey might not be the biggest sport in Chicago, but it’s one of the cities in the US that can boast of an extremely loyal fanbase that matches a deep history and affinity for its NHL team. Remember, the Blackhawks are one of the three US-based teams among the Original Six. 

In Tony Esposito’s death, Fleury should be able to find an additional source of inspiration to keep going in the NHL. Whether Fleury did indeed contemplate retirement or not before informing the Blackhawks that he intends to suit up for them and play out the remainder of his current contract in the 2021-22 NHL season, Chicago must be relieved that it will have the reigning  Vezina Trophy winner in front of the net. 

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It’s also worth noting that Tony Esposito and Fleury both served the Pittsburgh Penguins in the past under different capacities. Esposito used to be the Penguins’ general manager from 1988 to 1990, while Fleury’s best times in the NHL were in Pittsburgh where he won three Stanley Cups.

What better way for Fleury to pay homage to Tony Esposito, who was an important figure in helping pave the way for the style of goaltending netminders use today than help deliver the Stanley Cup back to the city where Tony O became a hockey legend right in his very first season with the Blackhawks.