He was the darling of the Montreal sports world back in 2007. Angelo Esposito was set to become a star after being selected in the first round in the NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The center had it all – slick skating skills and a big slapshot. But life threw Esposito a surprise bodycheck.
The Montreal-born hockey phenom spent most of the last decade dealing with multiple injuries– including two major knee surgeries over an eight month period. He spent several years playing in Europe, hoping for a new opportunity back home. It never came. Esposito’s professional hockey career lasted nine years. He never played a game in the NHL.
The now 29-year-old has moved on.
Hockey is still a big part of Esposito’s life. You will find him on the ice at a hockey complex in west-end Montreal. Esposito is employed as a player development coach at Hockey Etcetera.
He also coaches a boys’ hockey team at a private school in Westmount. This fall, he tacked on more duties to his already busy schedule. He’s running the practices for the Mount Royal-Outremont Devils, a Pee Wee AA hockey team in the Lac-Saint-Louis league.
« I enjoy working with the kids. I’ve been getting a lot more comfortable with them. I think I have been growing not only as a coach, but as a teacher. It’s been getting easier and easier talking with the kids, » Esposito says.
The 11 and 12-year-olds on the ice look up to Esposito. They’ve also looked him up on the internet. « They often tell me they’ve seen videos of my goals on the web and they think it’s awesome, » he says.
He admits those moments bring a smile to his face.
He’s also involved in the real estate game. Esposito owns and manages three apartment buildings in east-end Montreal. He’s gone from household name in the hockey world to managing households. Esposito is fine with that.
« Yes, there is disappointment that I never got to play in the NHL. It’s part of life and everything happens for a reason. But I’ve managed to create something good, and I am working to become even more successful, » says Esposito.
Return with the pros
Another thing Esposito admits – he sometimes misses « being in the dressing room with the boys ». He appears open to a return to professional hockey as a coach.
« If there is a door that opens in the future, I am not going to say no to it. But I’m a long way off from that, » he says.
For now, Esposito is taking it a day at a time. He says he’s in a good place and thanks his longtime girlfriend and family for supporting him through the tough times.
« I’m happy. I found my way, » he says with a smile.
The former top NHL prospect appears to be scoring in this new chapter of his life.