Stan Mikita, a legend for the Chicago Blackhawks, who won a Stanley Cup championship with the team in 1961, sadly passed away. He was 78.
Mikita played 22 years for the Blackhawks, becoming a team ambassador, according to The Daily Sun. He was so popular within the organization and among its fans that a bronze statue of him was placed outside the United Center.
After he retired, whenever he was shown on the videoboard at home games, fans cheered the revered former team captain. Oftentimes his teammate Bobby Hull was right beside him.
“I was proud to wear the Indianhead uniform for 22 years,” said Mikita the day he was honored before a 2008 home game.
Mikita’s family released a statement, saying his health had been in poor decline after being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is a progressive disease that causes problems with thinking, movement, behavior and mood, according to The Daily Sun.
"He was surrounded by his loving family whom he fiercely loved," the family said in the statement. "Details of planned services will be released when they become available. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time."
Mikita’s tenure with the Blackhawks was rare, having spent all his seasons with just one team. He began his NHL career in 1959. He is the Blackhawk’s career leader for assists (926), points (1,467) and games played (1,394). He’s second only to Hull with 541 goals.
Mikita so far is the only NHL player in history to win the Art Ross (scoring champion), Hart (MVP) and Lady Byng (sportsmanship) trophies in the same year – accomplishing the feat in consecutive years in 1967 and 1968.
His jersey became the first to be retired for the Blackhawks, in 1980. In 1983, he was inducted into the NHL hockey Hall of Fame.
“He embodied the Chicago Blackhawks,” said team president John McDonough.
Please keep his family in your prayers tonight. Be sure to read about a storm that rolled through New York City Thursday, striking three people with lightning, placing one in critical condition.