Esposito joined the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1964 season and, centering for the great Bobby Hull for four seasons, proved himself a quality playmaker, twice finishing amongst the league-leading scorers.
In 1967, he was dealt to the Boston Bruins in a blockbuster trade, along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. While the hitherto unremarkable Hodge and Stanfield became stars in the Black-and-Gold, Esposito blossomed into the greatest scorer of his day, becoming the first NHL player to score 100 points in a season with 126 in the 1969 season. He would top the "century" mark six times in all, including five consecutive seasons between 1971 and 1975 (plus a 99-point season in 1970). Esposito would also capture the Art Ross Trophy in 1969 and 1971-74 as the top regular season scorer.
Esposito was named to the NHL's First All-Star team six consecutive times (from 1969-74), and won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1969 and 1974. His Boston fans printed and displayed bumper stickers during his best years to celebrate his scoring: they read, "Jesus saves, Espo scores on the rebound." Esposito, while not a fast or graceful skater, was best known for his unmovable presence in front of the opposition net from which he could score from all angles. Esposito has said: “Scoring is easy. You simply stand in the slot, take your beating and shoot the puck into the net.”
During these great years, centering one of the most renowned forward lines in history with Hodge on right wing and left winger Wayne Cashman, Esposito and fellow superstar Bobby Orr led the Bruins to Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972, and first-place finishes in the league in 1971, 1972, and 1974.
During 1970-71, Esposito shattered the record for most goals scored in a season when he finished up with 76. This record stood until 1982 when Wayne Gretzky scored his 77th, 78th and 79th goal against the Buffalo Sabres. Esposito was on hand to present the game puck to Gretzky. Esposito also set the single season point-scoring record in 1971 with 152, a mark likewise now held by Gretzky. Only three other players have reached the 150 point-scoring plateau — Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Bernie Nicholls — and only Gretzky, Lemieux, Brett Hull, Teemu Selänne and Alexander Mogilny have scored 76 or more goals in a season.
After his performance in the Summit Series, where he was the inspirational captain for Team Canada and its leading scorer in the series, he won the 1972 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's outstanding male athlete of the year and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Esposito also scored the first goal of the series and he scored or assisted four times in the deciding game. During that series, his scolding of Canadian fans, who booed the national team after a 5-3 loss to the Soviet Union in Game Four, was credited with firing up his teammates :
"If the Russian fans boo their players in Moscow like you people are booing us, I'll come back and apologize personally to every one of you, but I really don't think that will happen. We gave it and are doing our best. All of us guys are really disheartened. . . . We came out here because we love Canada. They're a good hockey team, and we don't know what we could do better, but I promise we will figure it out. But it's totally ridiculous — I don't think it is fair that we should be booed."
He also played for Team Canada in the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976, on a line with Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne. The following year, Esposito would represent Canada once more in the 1977 World Championships.
In 1975-76, he and Carol Vadnais were traded to the New York Rangers for Brad Park, Joe Zanussi and Jean Ratelle. While not as glittering an offensive force as in his glory days, as captain of the Rangers, Esposito led the Blueshirts in points each of his full seasons with the club and remained an effective scorer until his final season. The highlight of his years in New York was leading the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final in 1979 where he finished third in postseason scoring. He retired in 1981, then only second to Gordie Howe in career goals and total points, and third in assists to Howe and Stan Mikita.
Esposito served as General Manager and coach of the Rangers for three years in the mid 1980s, during which he earned the nickname "Trader Phil" for the numerous transactions he made. During his tenure as GM, he made more trades than the Vancouver Canucks had made in the entire 1980's.  While serving as GM, two of his most famous trades included the trade for the legendary Marcel Dionne and an infamous trade, in which he sent a first round pick to the Quebec Nordiques as compensation for signing Michel Bergeron. Two other key acquisitions during his time as GM included drafting future Norris trophy winner Brian Leetch and signing Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur, who was planning a comeback.
He moved on to found the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning but faced competition from the Compuware Group who wanted to place a team in nearby St. Petersburg. It was proposed to Esposito that he merge his bid with the Compuware Group to which he refused.  His reputation and force of personality was widely credited with winning the expansion bid for Tampa Bay -- in 1992, serving as the team's president and general manager until 1998. Compuware eventually purchased the Hartford Whalers.
In the Lightning's inaugural season, he made hockey history by signing Manon Rheaume, making her the first woman to sign with an NHL team. He remains the team’s radio color commentator, and also co-hosts a daily call-in show on XM Satellite Radio's Home Ice channel. He has appeared in the last year on the FX network show Rescue Me, a show with strong hockey elements.
Esposito was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. In December of 1987, his #7 jersey was retired by the Boston Bruins in an emotional ceremony where the then-current wearer, superstar defenseman Ray Bourque, surrendered the number in Esposito's honor. Esposito was "visibly moved" when Bourque showed the Boston Garden crowd his new number, 77, which he used for the rest of his career.  Esposito was also on hand in Boston to hand Bourque his retired number after the latter retired.
Phil Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. Esposito's younger brother Tony is also an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Former NHLer Alexander Selivanov is Esposito's son-in-law.
 Awards & achievements