At first glance, Angelo Esposito might seem like your average seventeen year old. In reality, this teenager may very well be the future prodigy of the National Hockey League. Montreal born Esposito, a members of the Quebec Remparts, has laid his hands on the Memorial Cup in his rookie year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Esposito captained team Canada to a gold medal finish in the 2006 Under-18 world championship this August. The 17-year-old sensation is currently in the running to be picked first overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft. He is quite possibly the best of the ’89 vintage. The 6’1, 174-pound center finished the 2005-2006 regular season with 98 points (39 goals). Espo, as his buddies call him, received the Michel Bergeron Trophy, awarded annually to the QMJHL’s offensive rookie of the year. Moreover, Espo is being compared to the likes of Vincent Lecavalier and Sidney Crosby.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Angelo before the start of the 06-07 season. Here’s what he had to say:
Angelo, your objective at the start of the season was to win the Memorial Cup. You did just that, what’s next?
For next year I guess I’m taking it day by day .to start off next season with a good jump, make sure that I’m on top of my game. I just take my seasons day by day, game by game. I don’t jump ahead in the future. Another goal would obviously be to win another Memorial Cup and become a better player.
What was going through your mind during the final game against the Moncton Wildcats?
There wasn’t a lot going through my mind, I was a bit nervous but it was just a regular hockey game for me and I just wanted to go out there and play the hardest I could and the best I could. It was the last game of the year, that game there was either going to make or break my summer. We won it and we were all happy, it was obviously a lot more stressing than it looked and once we won it. It just felt great.
What was it like having an NHL legend such as Patrick Roy as a coach?
Obviously, it was exciting having a coach like Patrick behind the bench. He’s one of the greatest goalies in the NHL and he brings a lot of experience to us. He has a passion for hockey and he just wants to win. He showed us how to be winners and he got us working hard. All he expected from us is that we worked hard and if we worked hard he was happy.
How was your relationship with Patrick?
We had a really close relationship. I went and talked with him quite often and he spoke to me a lot. He was pretty close with everyone, whenever there was a problem he made sure that he talked to us about it. He’s open person and a good guy. It is intimidating because it’s Patrick Roy behind the bench, but once you get to know him he’s a regular guy, he’s open with everyone and he treats us the same way he treats his sons. It’s really nice to have that.
Angelo, one of your objectives is to graduate from university. What would you like to study?
Obviously, coming into this year I wanted to go off to university. I wanted to go into pre-med. But now that I’ve come here, obviously my goal is to one day play in the NHL and it’s a lot harder to study while playing hockey, but I’ve managed and next year I’ll be off to university. I’m just keeping my mind open right now and we’ll see what’s to come.
Angelo, there have been two famous Espositos in the NHL, Phil and Tony, will you be the next “Esposito”?
Obviously, like every other kid, it’s a dream to play in the NHL and that’s one of my goals… that’s what I’m focusing on and hopefully I can make it happen. I’m going to work hard and we’ll see one day. That’s all I can say, we’ll see.
Which team would you want to be drafted by?
I really don’t care who I get drafted by. My goal is to play in the NHL, so whichever team is going to take me . in the end I just want to make it.
What advice would you give to young athletes?
Work hard, stay in school, and be humble. You can’t have a big head if you want to become a hockey player. You have to have a good head on your shoulders and just make sure you’re always working hard.