Robert Esche started his career with the Phoenix Coyotes, only to be traded to the Flyers in a deal involving Michal Handzuš and Brian Boucher. He hails from Whitesboro, New York, where he contributes much to the community and charitable organizations with his spare time. In 2004, he claimed the starting goaltending spot for the Flyers, and led them to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, only to fall in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Esche has represented the United States in the 1997 and 1998 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and the IIHF World Championships in 2000, shutting out Russia in Russia, an accomplishment he still lists as his greatest moment in hockey. He also represented the US team in 2001 and also received the starting nod at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Esche is nicknamed "Chico" after former Flyers goaltender Glenn "Chico" Resch because his sticks are labeled R. Esche.
Esche was named to the 2006 US Men's Olympic Hockey Team in Turin. He played one game in the Olympic tournament, losing 5-4 to Russia.
While playing in Russia for Ak Bars, he posted a record of 22–5–2 with a 2.01 GAA and a .912 save percentage along with 4 shutouts.
He now plays in Russia's KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. In 2008-2009 he posted a record of 21-14 with a 1.87 Goals against average, and .912 save percentage. He also posted 9 shutouts.
Esche played for the 2008 Team USA Hockey team in the World Championships which took place in Canada. He had earned some starts after sitting out the first few games, including a 42 save performance in a controversial 3-2 loss against Finland. He also posted a 9-1 victory against Norway.