National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks legend, Stan Mikita has died, according to a statement from the Mikita family. He was 78 years old.
The statement did not give any details on the cause of death and no details of funeral services were revealed.
Mikita, who scored 541 goals and recorded 1,467 points over a stellar 22-year career with the Blackhawks was a two-time winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, FOX News reports. Mikita led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961. It was their first championship since 1938 and the last they would win until 2010.
In addition to his back-to-back MVP awards in 1967 and 1968, Mikita was a four-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point-scorer (1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968). He remains the Blackhawks’ all-time leader in points, assists (926), and games (1,394), while his 541 goals are second in franchise history behind Bobby Hull’s 604 tallies.
Mikita also tops the Blackhawks’ all-time lists for playoff assists (91), points (150) and games (155), a sign he was at his best for the biggest occasions.
Mikita became the first player to have his jersey retired by the Blackhawks in 1980, shortly after his retirement. He was inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame three years later.
Mikita helped Chicago develop into one of the most feared teams in the league. He had eight goals and 18 assists in his first full season, and then helped the Blackhawks to their first NHL title in 23 years.
The 1960-61 team, coached by Rudy Pilous, went 29-24-17 in the regular season, finishing third in the NHL. Chicago then upset Beliveau and heavily favored Montreal, and beat Detroit in six games for the championship. Mikita had 19 goals and 34 assists in the regular season, and then added six more goals and five assists in 12 playoff games.
Mikita and the Blackhawks played for the Stanley Cup again in 1962, but lost to Toronto in six games. They also lost in the finals in 1965, 1971 and 1973.
“There are no words to describe our sadness over Stan’s passing,” Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. “He meant so much to the Chicago Blackhawks, to the game of hockey, and to all of Chicago. He left an imprint that will forever be etched in the hearts of fans – past, present and future.”
We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and teammates.
Rest in peace brother.