NHL legend Phil Esposito thinks Lighting can complete rare Stanley Cup three-peat


TAMPA (WFLA) – He is the man responsible for bringing professional hockey to Florida.

“If I had a quarter for every time I was called a lunatic, a nut, for trying to put hockey in Florida I think I would have bought the team before Vinik bought it,” Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito said.

Esposito is most well known for his 18 years playing center in the National Hockey League. Once he wrapped up his career on the ice he continued to work with the NHL and hatched the plan to bring an expansion team to the sunshine state back in 1989.

He recalls what his friend and business partner, Henry Paul, said about the idea.

“We love football. We love boxing. We love wrestling. We love car crashes. {It} seems to me you got it all in hockey,” says Esposito.

Now, three decades later, the Lightning are three-time Stanley Cup champions and Esposito thinks there is a good chance they could do it again this season.

“There’s a possibility, with {Andre} Vasilevskiy, you can go all the way again,” Esposito said.

The Lightning would be the first team since 1983 to win three straight Stanley Cup championships.

However, 2021 has not been an easy year for Esposito. He lost his brother, fellow NHL Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, just one month after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“I was depressed for about three weeks. I was just not myself. I’m not even sure I’m 100% back yet.”

But when the puck drops on the new season tonight Esposito will be there cheering for the bolts knowing without him, this team might not even exist.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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