Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning founder Phil Esposito 'in total shock' over his daughter's death

Lightning founder Phil Esposito said he expects the phone in his Tampa home to ring at any moment.

On the other end will be his daughter, Carrie, telling him reports of her death were a cruel joke.

"I'm having major difficulties with this," Esposito told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. "I'm just in shock. I cannot believe it even as I sit and talk to you. I expect her to call me and start saying, 'April fool.' "

Carrie, 43, who was married to former Lightning star Alex Selivanov, died Monday, apparently from a sudden illness, Esposito said.

The couple had two children: Nikko, 13, and Rocco, 9. Dylan, 18, was Carrie's son from a previous marriage. They lived in Krefeld, Germany, where Selivanov played from 2003-08.

"I can't believe this," Esposito said he told Alex when his son-in-law called with the news. "I cannot believe this."

The story of how Carrie died still is sketchy, said Esposito, who plans to fly to Germany this week to get more details and the results of an autopsy. But he also said he knew something was wrong because about 10 days ago Carrie "coughed up some blood."

"But she refused to go to the doctor," Esposito said. "She refused to go to the hospital. 'I'm fine. I'm taking the kids to practice.' That's all I know."

Esposito said when he last spoke to Carrie about four days ago, "She never said a word. She said she was fine."

Esposito said Alex Selivanov was with the children at a local hockey rink when a neighbor who was supposed to visit Carrie found her in the family home in distress.

Carrie went by ambulance to a hospital where she was put into a coma to stabilize her. She died soon after.

"I just remember a little tiny person just like her mom," said friend Becky Cashman D'Aiuto. "She had this tenacious personality, just like her dad; definitely tenacious and not afraid or intimidated by anything."

D'Aiuto was the Lightning's publication manager while Carrie, from 1992-96, was the organization's first director of team services, responsible for scheduling the players' travel for road trips.

Video coach Nigel Kirwan also was part of what he called "a small core group of us in our early 20s trying to solve this hockey thing in Florida. … (Carrie) worked hard. She was in on the ground floor helping her father to get the organization up and running."

Of her death, Terry Crisp, the Lightning's first coach, said, "It was like a member of your family is gone."

Esposito said he is not quite sure how he is keeping his emotions in check, considering that just a few weeks ago his former wife, Linda, Carrie's mother, died of emphysema.

He said he has spoken to Alex Selivanov at least five times, and he has tried to help make the kids understand death is part of life.

One thing Esposito said he does not understand: "You're not supposed to live longer than your children."

Times staff writer Tom Jones contributed to this report. Damian Cristodero can be reached at


A private funeral for Carrie Selivanov is planned this week in Germany. Condolences for the family can be sent to: Phil Esposito, c/o Tampa Bay Lightning, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602.

Tampa Bay Lightning founder Phil Esposito 'in total shock' over his daughter's death 01/31/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.