Stan Mikita, the hockey nice who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup title whereas turning into one of many franchise’s most revered figures, died Tuesday. He was 78.
Mikita’s household introduced his loss of life in a press release launched by the staff. No additional particulars have been offered, however the Corridor of Famer had been unwell after being identified with a mind dysfunction referred to as Lewy physique dementia.
“He was surrounded by his loving household whom he fiercely beloved,” the household stated within the assertion.
Mikita spent his total profession with Chicago, starting together with his NHL debut in 1959 and working by way of his retirement after enjoying 17 video games within the 1979-80 season. He’s the franchise’s profession chief for assists (926), factors (1,467) and video games performed (1,394), and is second to former teammate Bobby Hull with 541 targets.
Mikita stays the one NHL participant in historical past to win the Artwork Ross (scoring champion), Hart (MVP) and Girl Byng (sportsmanship) trophies in the identical season, and he completed the feat in consecutive years in 1967 and 1968. He turned the primary participant to have his jersey retired by the Blackhawks in 1980, and was inducted into the Corridor of Fame three years later.
He was named one of many high 100 NHL gamers of all time by The Canadian Press in 2017. Born is the Slovak Republic earlier than transferring from Czechoslovakia to St. Catharines, Ont., as a younger boy, Mikita was on Canada’s roster for the 1972 Summit Collection, however was restricted to 2 video games as a result of damage.
Mikita’s relationship with the Blackhawks deteriorated over time, however the franchise reached out to the previous captain after longtime proprietor William Wirtz died in 2007 and his son, Rocky, took over. Mikita and Hull every turned a staff ambassador and have been honoured with bronze statues outdoors the United Heart.
Mikita was a daily at dwelling video games earlier than his well being deteriorated, drawing loud cheers when he was proven on the videoboard, usually with Hull proper beside him.
“I used to be proud to put on the Indianhead uniform for 22 years,” Mikita stated when he was honoured earlier than a 2008 dwelling sport.
The five-foot-nine Mikita was simply 18 when he was promoted from the Ontario Hockey Affiliation’s St. Catharines Teepees to hitch a mediocre Blackhawks franchise in 1959. He made his debut at dwelling towards mighty Montreal, and his first faceoff got here towards Jean Beliveau throughout his prime.
“I used to be nonetheless in a daze after I went out to take that faceoff towards a legend like Beliveau, who was round six-foot-five and a towering presence on the ice,” Mikita wrote in his 2011 ebook, “Eternally a Blackhawk.”
“He needed to outweigh me by 60 kilos. The faceoff was in Montreal’s finish. I seemed up at him from the circle and wound up looking at his stomach button. That’s how tall he was. My knees have been shaking. My head was spinning. By some means I bought my stick down and managed to get the puck to our level man. Don’t ask me who it was. I used to be too nervous to recollect names.”
However Mikita confirmed regular enchancment firstly of his profession, serving to Chicago turn into one of the vital feared groups within the league. He had eight targets and 18 assists in his first full season, after which helped the Blackhawks to their first NHL title in 23 years.
The 1960-61 staff, coached by Rudy Pilous, went 29-24-17 within the common season, ending third within the NHL. Chicago then upset Beliveau and closely favoured Montreal, and beat Detroit in six video games for the championship. Mikita had 19 targets and 34 assists within the common season, after which added six extra targets and 5 assists in 12 playoff video games.
Mikita and the Blackhawks performed for the Stanley Cup once more in 1962, however misplaced to Toronto in six video games. In addition they misplaced within the finals in 1965, 1971 and 1973 regardless of continued post-season success for Mikita, who tops the franchise playoff lists for assists (91), factors (150) and video games (155).