Outside the United Center in Chicago Illinois sits statues of two Chicago Blackhawks legends. The names on each: Stanislav “Stan” Mikita and Bobby Hull. In this piece, I will focus on Stan Mikita, following up with Bobby Hull in a subsequent article.
Stan Mikita earned a spot on the Black Hawks (yes at that time Black Hawks was two words) as centerman in 1959, and won the Stanley Cup in 1961. Unfortunately, he would not win another during his career. He went on to be one of the most prolific scorers in Chicago history. Ultimately Mikita would play for 22 seasons in the Indian Head sweater, a team record still held today. The list of additional individual records that Mikita holds is astonishing:
Team Records Held
- Most games played – 1,394
- Most games including playoffs – 1,549
- 20+ goal seasons – 14
- Consecutive 20+ goal seasons – 14
- Assists – 926
- Assists including the playoffs – 1017
- Points – 1,467
- Points including the playoffs – 1,617
- Additionally, Mikita ranks second in goals scored with 541 and recorded 16 hat tricks in his stellar career (Hull is first in each).
Mikita was also well decorated at the NHL level. In fact, Stan Mikita is also the only player in history to be awarded the Lady Byng, Hart and Art Ross Trophies in the same year; and he did it twice!
- Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Gentlemanly Play) – 1967; 1968
- Hart Trophy (League MVP) – 1967; 1968
- Art Ross Trophy (League Leading Scorer) – 1964; 1965; 1967; 1968
- First Czechoslovakian-born player in the NHL
- NHL Hall of Fame Inductee – 1983
Mikita Remembers Nothing
Stan Mikita’s number 21 sweater was retired by the Blackhawks on October 19, 1980 at the old Chicago Stadium. In 2010, he would become a Blackhawks Ambassador for the team, much to the delight of old and new fans alike. Lastly, his statue was unveiled in a touching ceremony in 2011, along with and along side his best friend’s Bobby Hull.
Despite all of the accomplishments and accolades on and off the ice, Mikita sadly cannot remember any of it. In January of 2015, Mikita was diagnosed with Lewy bodies, a brain disorder and type of dementia that destroys the memory, among other symptoms. There is no cure. A very touching article was written by Chris Kuc in the Chicago Tribune on June 15, 2015 regarding the disorder and its impact on Mikita and his family.
Fortunately for Blackhawks fans everywhere, Mikita, with the assistance of Chicago Blackhawks historian Bob Verdi, published a book in 2011 called “Forever a Blackhawk”. The book is still available on Amazon and takes readers through his personal life history, from childhood through “Living happily ever after.” I consider it a must read for anyone wanting to better know and understand what made Stan Mikita tick.
Even though Stan Mikita may not remember any of his play or interactions with his millions of fans, we do. In my opinion, that is what makes the statue even more amazing. It is a permanent tribute and reminder of one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL and done a Chicago Blackhawks uniform. The next time you have the chance to see a game at the United Center, go to the Eastern Corner by Madison Street and have a look. The statue encompasses the beauty of the game as well as of the man. That Mr. Mikita, will never be forgotten.
“If you play to win as I do, the game never ends.” – Stan Mikita
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength