It was quite a season. For the first time in history, the Hawks finished first. I had 21 goals, but a big fat zero in six playoff games as we got knocked out in the opening round. I knew that Roger wasn't impressed with me as a playoff performer. Still, in three seasons with Chicago I had scored 23, 27 and 21 goals. So what happened? I was traded to Boston. A last place club.For the first time in my hockey life I had been rejected. Guys talk about trades being part of the game. I suupose it's always in the back of your mind if you're a professional athlete. But when it happens - pow. It's a slap in the face. What it means to a guy is that someone doesn't think enough of him to keep him around. That was my reaction anyway. Maybe if you go from a bad club to a winner you're thrilled. But Boston? That was a last place team. They hadn't been in the playoffs since 1959. It was like the guys on the Hawks were consoling me at a wake. "You'll like it in Boston," they said. "It's a great hockey town." That wasn't my reaction, though. Ther was shame. I had scored 71 goals in three years, and my club thought they were getting someone better. Funny, isn't it, that the first thing you ask when you're told you've been traded is: "Who did they trade me for?" Then when you find out the guy's name, you try to reationalize that he's really pretty good, maybe even a bigger name than you are. Every guy I know who's ever been traded want's to know; "Who'd they get for me?"Yet, there was something positive about the Boston deal. For the first time I realized I was a celebrity. I never thought people knew my name or that the papers cared much about me. But when the trade was announced, I was the major figure in the deal. The Hawks had to get rid of me before I saw my name in big type. At Chicago I'd been overshadowed by Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, Ken Warrham. All of a sudden, I was a big man in Boston. Together with Orr. And I liked that.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
On this date in 1967, the course of NHL history was changed for the next ten years when the Chicago Black Hawks dealt Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the Boston Bruins for Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin and Jack Norris in what is considered one of the most lopsided trades in league history.
Left Wing Stanfield had been with the Black Hawks for three seasons, but saw his number of games with the Black Hawks decline from 58 as a rookie in 1964-65 to 39 to just 10 in 1966-67.
Right Wing Hodge had just completed his second season and had come off of a 10 goal, 35 point campaign.
Center Esposito first played 27 games with Chicago in 1963-64, although he gave little hint as to what was to come when he scored a mere 3 goals and 2 assists for just 5 points. The following three seasons he became a full-season NHL regular, scoring 55, 53 and finally 61 points with a high of 27 goals in 1965-66.
In exchange for those three players, the Black Hawks received Marotte, a defenseman with two seasons under his belt, goaltending prospect Norris, a player who played 23 games with Boston in 1964-65, and Martin, the second leading scorer for Boston the previous season, but with just 42 points.
Following the trade Norris would play just 10 games in goal for the Black Hawks over the next two seasons before moving to the Los Angeles Kings after a season in the minors. Marotte saw action for Chicago for three seasons before also moving on to the Kings. Martin was the bright spot in the trade for the Black Hawks, as he played ten years for Chicago, averaging 63 points per season with a high of 90 in 1972-73 and leading the team in scoring once in 1976.
In the ten years following the trade, Chicago would qualify for the playoffs nine times, reaching the finals twice, losing to the Montreal Canadiens twice, by one goal in the seventh game in 1971 and in six games in 1973.
In the years following the trade, Stanfield was a member of the Bruins for six seasons, averaging 68 points and an incredibly consistent 22.5 goals, with each season falling between 20 and 25 goals.
Hodge shown brightly in Boston, playing nine seasons with the Bruins, with remarkable durability, only once playing less than 70 games, and scoring 90 points or more on three occasions. 1973-74 was his best season, scoring 50 goals and 105 points.
It was the arrival of Esposito, admittedly along with the maturation of defenseman Bobby Orr, that transformed the Bruins. Prior to Esposito's arrival in Boston, the Bruins had missed the playoffs in the six team NHL the previous eight seasons. Following the trade with Chicago, Boston would go on a run of making the playoffs for 29 straight years.
From Esposito's 1972 book "Hockey is My Life":
Esposito would immediately surpass his career high 61 points with Chicago and lead the Bruins in scoring with 84. Paired with Hodge and Ron Murphy in 1968-69, the line would explode offensively, setting a record for points by a line with Esposito's 126 points leading the league in scoring and obliterating the NHL single season record in the process, as he became the first player to ever reach 100 points in a season.
The 1969-70 season featured Orr winning the scoring title with Esposito second with 99 points as the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941 thanks in part to Esposito scoring 27 points from 13 goals and 14 assists in just 14 games.
Phil Esposito with the Stanley Cup in 1970
Dozens of scoring records fell to the Bruins the following season as Esposito upped the scoring record to 152 points and the goal scoring mark to 76. Remarkably, Esposito and Orr with 139 points, Johnny Bucyk with 116 and Hodge with 105, finished 1-2-3-4 in league scoring, something no NHL teammates had ever done before. Hodge's 105 points were a record for right wings and Orr's 139 still stands as the record for defensemen.
Esposito would again win the league scoring title in 1971-72 with 133 points, with Orr again second as the Bruins won their second Stanley Cup in three years. During the playoffs that season Esposito was again a major contributor, scoring nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 15 games.
The Stanley Cup Champion 1971-72 Boston Bruins
Another scoring title for Esposito was in store for 1972-73, this time with 55 goals and 133 points with Hodge and Stanfield fourth and fifth for the Bruins.
The Bruins offense again reached the point of domination again in 1973-74 with Esposito's fifth scoring title, and fourth consecutive, when he scored 68 goals and 145 points. Once more, Esposito, Orr (122 points) and Esposito's linemates Hodge (105) and Wayne Cashman (89) swept the top four places in the scoring race, the only other time in league history teammates have swept the top four places, as the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Esposito lost out on the scoring title to Orr (135 points) in 1974-75, but still came in second overall with 127 points while leading the league in goal scoring with 61, his fifth consecutive season with 55 goals or more.
12 games into the 1975-76 season, the Bruins dealt Esposito to the New York Rangers, with Hodge following him there a year later, closing the most successful chapter in Boston Bruins history.
Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 and Boston retired Esposito's sweater #7 in a memorable ceremony in 1987.
While a member of the Bruins, Esposito won five Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, two Lester Pearson Awards, and two Stanley Cups, as did Hodge while Stanfield captured one.
The Chicago Blackhawks still have yet to win another Stanley Cup.
Today's featured jersey is a 1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks Phil Esposito jersey, as worn in Esposito's rookie season with Chicago. This was the first year for this exact style of Black Hawks jersey with three stripes on the sleeves and would be used for just two seasons before the lace up collar would be discontinued.
While we try to avoid YouTube slideshows in favor of video footage, every now and then we find one that does a pretty nice job. Perhaps it was the music that tipped the scales in favor of this look at the career of Phil Esposito.
Another great video moment from YouTube, Phil Esposito, along with basketball star Bill Walton and football legend Dick Butkus, on the game show, "Wheel of Fortune"!