Phil Esposito

Career

  • NHL: 1963-81; 18 seasons, 16 quality
  • Totals:
    • 717G (6th All Time),
    • 873A (23rd) for 1590P (10th),
    • +197[1. Since 1967-68] in
    • 1282 games;
    • 163.8 PS (25th)
  • Esposito is 12th All Time in GPG, and 10th in PPG[2. Esposito held the career PPG record at the end of the 1970-71 season]
  • Esposito is 5th All Time in Offensive Point Shares
  • Era: 1st in Goals,[3. Esposito is ahead by 243 goals] GPG,[4. Esposito is ahead by 0.15 GPG] Assists,[4. Esposito is ahead by 97 assists] Points[5. Esposito is ahead by 356 points] PPG,[6. Esposito is ahead by .14 PPG] OPS,[7. Esposito is ahead by 42 OPS] PS,[8. Esposito is ahead by 41.1 Point Shares] Games, and 2nd in APG[9. Of the 5 players to play in at least 1100 games between 1963 and 1981, as only 2 players played in 1150 games, and because only Esposito played in at least 1200 games during the span]
  • 82-game average: 46G, 56A for 102P
  • 3-year peak (1970-73): 78-game average of 66G, 73A for 140P, +48
  • Playoffs: 61G, 76A for 137 in 130 games
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 671G, 837A for 1508P
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 43G, 54A for 96P
      • Esposito is 11th All Time in Adjusted PPG[10. If the qualifier is set at 750 games; if the qualifier is raised to 1,000 games, Esposito is 6th All Time]
    • VsX:
  • Traded once in his prime and once before.

Accomplishments

  • Hart (’69, ’74), Ted Lindsay (’71, ’74)
  • Top 5 in Hart voting thrice more (’71, ’72, ’73)
  • Art Ross (’69, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74[11. 2nd most trophies All Time at the time])
  • Back Check MVP (’69, ’73)
  • Back Check Best Player (’69)
  • Best Player[12. By Point Shares] once (’69), Top 5 eight times (’68, ’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75)
  • Best Offensive Player[13. By Offensive Point Shares] five times (’69, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74), Top 5 eight times (’68, ’70, ’75), Top 10 nine times (’67)
  • Esposito set the single-season record in Offensive Point Shares in 1970-71[14. Esposito held the OPS record until 1981-82]
  • Goals:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Goals six times,
      • Top 5 eight times,
      • Top 10 nine times
    • GPG Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in GPG five times,
      • Top 5 seven times,
      • Top 10 eight times
    • Single-season Totals:
      • Scored 75 Goals once,[15. Esposito was the first player to score over 70 goals in a season when he set the single-season record in 1970-71 and he held that record until 1981-82; he is now 1 of only 6 players ever]
      • 65 goals thrice,[16. Only player to do so at his retirement, now 1 of only 4 players ever]
      • 60 goals four times,[17. Only player at his retirement, now 1 of only 4 players ever]
      • 55 goals five times,[18. Only player at his retirement, now 1 of only 3 ever]
      • 45 goals six times,[19. 1 of only 2 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 11 ever]
      • 40 goals eight times,[20. 1 of only 2 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 10 ever]
      • 35 goals eleven times,[21. 1 of only 2 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 8 ever]
      • 30 goals thirteen times,[22. 1 of only 3 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 9 ever]
      • 25 goals fourteen times,[23. 1 of only 2 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 12 ever]
      • 20 goals sixteen times,[24. 1 of only 4 players at his retirement, now 1 of only 20 ever]
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Assists thrice,
      • Top 5 eight times,
      • Top 10 nine times
    • APG Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in APG twice,
      • Top 5 seven times,
      • Top 10 nine times
    • Single-season totals:
      • Tallied 70 assists four times,[25. Esposito was the first player to tally 70 assists in a single season, setting the single-season record in 1968-69, but it was broken by his teammate the next year; Esposito was 1 of only 4 players to tally 70 assists four times at his retirement, now 1 of 12 players ever]
      • 60 assists six times,[26. 1 of only 3 players at his retirement, now 1 of 20 players ever]
      • 50 assists seven times,[27. 1 of only 4 players at his retirement]
      • 40 assists thirteen times,[28. 1 of only 3 players to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 22 ever]
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Points five times,
      • Top 5 eight times,
      • Top 10 ten times
  • PPG Leader-boards:
    • Led the league in PPG five times,
    • Top 5 eight times,
    • Top 10 nine times
    • Single-season totals:
      • Scored 150 points once,[29. Esposito was the first player to score at least 120 points in a single season so he set the single-season record in Points in 1968-69, broke his own record in 1970-71 by becoming the first player to score 150 points in a single season and held that record until 1980-81; Esposito was 1 of only 2 players to score 150 points in a season at his retirement, now he is 1 of 5 players ever]
      • 140 points twice,[30. The only player to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 3 players ever]
      • 130 points our times,[31. The only player to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 3 ever]
      • 120 points six times,[32. The only player to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 4) players ever]
      • 90 points seven times,[33. 1 of only 2 players to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 17]
      • 80 points eleven times,[34. The only player at his retirement, now 1 of 10]
      • 70 points thirteen times,[35. 1 of only 3 players to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 13]
      • 60 points fourteen times,[36. 1 of only 3 players to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 20 ever]
      • 50 points sixteen times[37. 1 of only 6 players to do so at his retirement, now 1 of 22 ever]
  • Top 5 in Plus Minus four times, Top 10 five times
  • 1st Team All Star six times, 2nd Team twice
  • 10 All Star Games
  • VsX:

Great Teams

  • NHL:
    • Best Player[38. Set the single playoff record in goals and points – the goals record held for one season, the points record held until 1980 but did not win MVP] on one Champion (’70 Bruins),
    • Best Player[39. Led the playoffs in goals, assists and points] on one Final Four (’69 Bruins),
    • Best Skater[40. By points] on one Runner Up (’79 Rangers),
    • Best Forward[41. led the playoffs in goals and points] on one Champion (’72 Bruins),
    • Top 6 Forward[42. by points] on two Runners Up (’65 Black Hawks, ’74 Bruins) and two Final Fours (’66, ’67 Black Hawks),
    • Role Player[43. By points] on one Final Four (’64 Black Hawks)
  • Canada Cup:
    • Top 6 Forward[44. By points] on one Canada Cup Champion (’76 Canada)
  • Summit Series:
    • Best Player[45. By points] on one Summit Series Champion (’72 Canada).

Why is it that we[46. My generation anyway] have trouble thinking of Esposito as one of the greatest hockey players of all time? Is it because he was on the same team as Bobby Orr, whose legend has endured far better? Is it because of Esposito’s extraordinarily unathletic physique? Is it because everything he did has since been done multiple times by multiple players so those records feel less important?

I have no idea, but he was the most dominant offensive player between Howe and Gretzky.[47. I have read somewhere that Lafleur was the most dominant offensive player between Howe and Gretzky, but I don’t see evidence to back that up.] Sure, he benefited from playing more games per season in the newly expanded league[48. Someone was going to set records] and, yes, he benefited from playing with the Greatest of All Time, but lesser players wouldn’t have excelled the way he did, over such a long period of time.

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