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Tony Esposito dead – NHL legend dies after battle with pancreatic cancer aged 78

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HOCKEY legend Tony Esposito has died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 78.

The star’s former club The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Tuesday that he had passed away.

AP
NHL legend Tony Esposito has died at the age of 78 after a battle with pancreatic cancer[/caption]
Getty
Esposito was renowned for his 15 years at the Chicago Blackhawks[/caption]

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said: “The hockey world will miss him greatly.

“The NHL family extends its deepest sympathies to his wife Marilyn, sons Mark and Jason, and grandchildren Lauren and Kamryn.”

Esposito started as a rookie at the Montreal Canadiens but the former goaltender was best known for his 15-year spell at the Blackhawks.

He joined the side in 1969 and played the final years of his career with the ice hockey team.

The Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup final in 1971 and 1973 but lost to Esposito’s former club Montreal on each occasion.

He received the prestigious Veniza Trophy three times during his career in Chicago.

Esposito, who was named as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

‘A LEGEND OF THE GAME’

His No.35 jersey was retired in tribute and he was named a team ambassador.

The club posted on Twitter: “We are heartbroken to have lost a legend in Tony Esposito, who passed away today after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.”

Esposito also served as the general manager of Pittsburgh Penguins and chief scout at Tampa Bay Lightning where he was hired by older brother Phil.

Former Blackhawks defenseman Doug Wilson described news of Esposito’s death as “heartbreaking”.

The ex-hockey player said: “He (Esposito) exuded leadership and class while being one of the most dominant players ever seen at his position.”

NHL columnist Dave Stubbs said: “No words for this heartbreak. You were a legend. A wonderful storyteller.

“You and Marilyn were my delightful hosts at your home, Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” in your jukebox.

“The best dining companion. A dear friend. I’ll miss you more than I can say. Godspeed, Tony Esposito.”

He is survived by his wife Marilyn, two sons, and two grandchildren.

AP
His shirt number was retired in 1988[/caption]
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