CHICAGO, IL — Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita has died, the hockey organization announced Tuesday. He was 78.
Details about a funeral service will be released when they become available, the Mikita family said in a statement. In 2015, Mikita was diagnosed with suspected Lewy body dementia, a progressive brain disorder.
“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. Stan made everyone he touched a better person. My wife Marilyn and I, joined by the entire Wirtz family, extend our prayers and thoughts to Jill and the Mikita family. ‘Stosh’ will be deeply missed, but never, ever forgotten.”
Mikita — born Stainslav Guoth in Sokolce, Slovak Republic, before moving to Ontario, Canada, as a boy to escape Communist Czechoslovakia — played his entire 22-year career with the Blackhawks, which spanned from 1958 to 1980. He’s the team’s scoring leader with 1,467 points, and he led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961.
His No. 21 sweater was retired in October 1980, and he was named the Blackhawks ambassador in March 2008. In 1983, Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Non-hockey fans are familiar with the Blackhawks star thanks to “Wayne’s World.” Not only was a fictional doughnut shop named after him in the movie, but Mikita also made a cameo.
“Stan Mikita will be always remembered as a champion, an innovator and a master of the game,” Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough said in a statement. “He embodied the Chicago Blackhawks. His excellence is illustrated by the team records he still holds today. His passion for the game was proved by the longevity of his playing career. The impact he had on the franchise is proved by fact that Blackhawks fans still wear his jersey to the United Center.”
Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita before Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center in Chicago. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images)