Phil Esposito

Lightning to unveil bronze Phil Esposito sculpture

1 Comment

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Tampa Bay Lightning joining the National Hockey League.

So what better way to commemorate it than with a life-size bronze bust?

That’s exactly what the Lightning plan to do on Dec. 31. Prior to their game against Carolina, the Bolts will unveil a statue of franchise founder Phil Esposito. More, from TBO.com:

“I’m very excited,” Esposito said Monday. “I’ve seen the sculpture and the guy did a real good job. My only regret is we should have put a pair of hockey skates off to the side.”

The life-sized sculpture, created by local artist Steven Dickey, portrays Esposito in a jacket and Lightning tie, grasping a hockey stick. Esposito brandishes a Lightning Stanley Cup ring on the finger of one hand and a ring from Boston’s 1969-1970 Stanley Cup champions on the other hand.

In 2008, Dickey crafted a bronze sculpture of former Tampa mayor Dick Greco that sits across from the Tampa Convention Center.

Should point out that, very soon, Tampa will have gigantic bronze statues of Phil Esposito and Dick Greco. I assume the marble bust of former Buccaneers safety Sabatino “Sabby” Piscitelli is next.

Anyway, it’s cool Tampa is celebrating one of the most colorful personalities in NHL history. He’s certainly left his mark on the Lightning organization, though two of the numerous Espo anecdotes stand out from the rest.

The first was when he signed Manon Rheaume to become the first woman to play professional hockey. She appeared in a preseason game against St. Louis, played a period, made seven saves and allowed two goals.

“I’d be a liar to say I wasn’t using this for publicity,” Esposito said at the time. “But I don’t care if she is a woman. If there were a horse with skates and it could stop a puck, I’d put it in there.”

The second was how Esposito lured a consortium of Japanese businessmen to invest in a Tampa expansion team (the Japanese deal was key after one of his chief backers bailed on the idea.) The group was headed by golf course and resort operator Kokusai Green — so, how did Espo get the deal done?

“The more we drank, the more it made sense,” Esposito said. “I said ‘hockey.’ They thought I said ‘sake’.”

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

Leave a comment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

131 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

ovicrosbynbcsn
NBCSN screen
20 Comments

Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

20 Comments

Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.