Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Fame player and all-time points leader Stan Mikita has been diagnosed with dementia and has spent the last six months in a Chicago-area facility eating and exercising with his mind "completely gone," according to a Chicago Tribune report Monday.
Mikita's wife Jill characterized his mental state this way, saying, "I don't like to use that term, but there's no other way to describe it."
Mikita had skated at the Blackhawks' annual Christmas party as recently as December, but underwent a "sharp decline" in mental health roughly a month later, she said.
Mikita's brain will be donated to research upon his death, per his wishes. If it is found that Mikita has chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, his family will not pursue legislation against the NHL, the report said. The NHL has faced several lawsuits from the families of former players who claim they were not properly informed about the dangers of repeated concussions.
"It's not going to change anything," Jill said. "He played a sport and a game that he loved and that provided us as a family with a wonderful upbringing. Hockey was good to Stan and Stan was good to hockey. There is no finger to be pointed. He knew what he was doing lacing up those skates every time he got on the ice."
Mikita, a 22-year NHL veteran who played in four different decades, spent his entire career with the Blackhawks. He is Chicago's all-time leading scorer with 1,467 points and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
The Blackhawks played in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday in an attempt to win the franchise's sixth Stanley Cup. Mikita's absence during the Final has been notable, as fellow Blackhawks icons Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito have made appearances at the United Center to root on the team.
The team, which had a 3–2 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into the game, also won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013.