Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Phil Esposito Framed Autographed Lithograph

I guess it's Boston Bruins week!

After the Leo Boivin card, I really wanted to post another vintage Bruins jersey, so I decided to revert back to my collection of framed autographed lithographs by Canada Post, of which I own seven. I have previously mentioned my Ray Bourque and Serge Savard ones, and now it's Phil Esposito's turn, a limited edition, numbered #713/1007.

Phil is the older brother of Tony Esposito, the Chicago Black Hawks' star goalie who helped pioneer the ''butterfly'' technique. Both are in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Phil also started with the Hawks, centering Bobby Hull and twice finishing in the league's top scorers in his first three seasons, before being dealt to the Bruins. As a Bruin, he became the first player ever to gather 100 points in a single season, and did so with 126 in 1968-69. He would hit the 100-point mark six times in total (plus another 99-point season), and would capture the Art Ross trophy as the league scoring leader five times; he also led the league in goals six consecutive seasons, a feat that would have given him the Rocket Richard trophy each time, by today's standards. He held the single-season goal-scoring record (76 goals) for over a decade until Wayne Gretzky surpassed him, and still holds the record for most shots on net in a season, with 550.

During his Bruins years, he also suited up for Team Canada in the Summit Series; in fact, he was the team's captain and leading scorer. He also played on the inaugural Canada Cup team (1976), on a line with Marcel Dionne and Hull.

In 1975-76, he was traded to the New York Rangers, whom he also captained and led in scoring in 5 of his 6 seasons there. After his retirement, he became the Blueshirts' general manager, bringing a bunch of has-beens (Dionne, Guy Lafleur) to Broadway, before moving on to found the Tampa Bay Lightning, for whom he was also the general manager from inception until 1998; some of his moves in Tampa include signing Manon Rhéaume as the first woman to have an NHL contract and claiming first-overall pick Vincent Lecavalier was going to be ''hockey's Michael Jordan''. He now serves as the Lightning's colour commentary analyst and can be seen alongside Denis Leary on 'Rescue Me'.

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