Heartbreaking news out of Chicago this morning where it was announced that Hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy Body dementia.
A statement released by his family confirms that Mikita is suffering from the progressive disease and is currently under compassionate care.
“The family of Stan Mikita truly appreciates the support he has received over the many years he has played, worked and lived in the Chicago area,” the statement reads. “They hope the fans will keep him in their thoughts and prayers and respect his privacy during this difficult time.”
The Blackhawks issued a statement of their own this morning:
“We are aware of the unfortunate health news regarding Blackhawks Ambassador and Hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita. We are thinking of Stan and his family at this difficult time, and wish him well. Stan’s family has asked for privacy, and we hope all will respect their wishes.”
The first Czech-born player in the NHL, Mikita spent 22 years with the Blackhawks and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (926), points (1,467) and games played (1,394). He ranks second in goals (541) behind his former teammate Bobby Hull (604).
Mikita picked up a reputation as a dirty player early in his career, topping 100 minutes in penalties four times, but he went on to win three Lady Byng trophies in recognition of his gentlemanly play. His first came in 1966-67 in what is regarded as one of the greatest seasons in NHL history. Mikita also won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies during that campaign after tying the NHL record with 97 points and setting a new standard with 62 assists. It was the first time in history that a player had won three major awards in one season. Amazingly, he repeated the feat the following year. He was named a First Team NHL All-Star six times and was a Stanley Cup winner in 1961. Mikita also skated in two games for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.
No doubt this is a tough time for Mikita and his family, but as we've seen with the stunning recovery of Gordie Howe, miracles do happen. We'll be keeping them all in our thoughts.
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