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Stan Mikita

Stan Mikita (born Stanislav Guoth on May 20, 1940 in Sokolče, Slovak Republic) was a Slovak-born Canadian professional player who played for the Chicago Blackhawks on the NHL from 1958 to 1980, and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961.

Mikita is regarded as the best centre of the 1960s; in 2017, he was named one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players".

In 2015, Mikita was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia; on August 7, 2018, he died from the disease at the age of 78.

BiographyEdit

Early LifeEdit

Mikita was raised in a small farming community in Sokolče, Slovak Republic and moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada in 1948. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Anna and Joe Mikita, who gave him their surname.

Playing CareerEdit

After three starring junior seasons with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association, Mikita was promoted to the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1959–60 season. In his second full year, in 1961, the Black Hawks won their third Stanley Cup. Mikita led the entire league in goals during the playoffs, scoring a total of six.

The following season was his breakout year. Mikita became a star as centre of the famed "Scooter Line", with right wing Ken Wharram and left wingers Ab McDonald & Doug Mohns.

Combining skilled defense and a reputation as one of the game's best faceoff men using his innovative curved stick, Mikita led the NHL in scoring four times in the decade, tying Bobby Hull's year-old single-season scoring mark in the 1966–67 season with 97 points (a mark broken two years later by former teammate Phil Esposito and currently held by Wayne Gretzky).

The 1967–68 season, an 87-point effort from Mikita, was the last year a Chicago player won the scoring title until Patrick Kane's 106-point 2015–16 season.

During his early years, Mikita was among the most penalized players in the league, but he then decided to play a cleaner game and he went on to win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for particularly sportsmanlike conduct combined with excellence twice.

His drastic change in behavior came after he returned home from a road trip. His wife told him that while their daughter, Meg, was watching the Black Hawks' last road game on television, she turned and said, "Mommy, why does Daddy spend so much time sitting down?"; the camera had just shown Mikita in the penalty box again.

Mikita's later years were marred by chronic back injuries, leading to his retirement during the 1979–80 season; at that time, only Gordie Howe and Phil Esposito had scored more points in the NHL and just six players had appeared in more games.

On October 19, 1980, the Blackhawks retired Mikita's number 21, making him the first Blackhawks player to have his number retired.

In 2011, statues of Mikita and Bobby Hull were installed outside the United Center where the Blackhawks currently play.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM PP SH GW GP G A Pts PIM PP SH GW
1956–57 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 52 16 31 47 129 14 8 9 17 44
1957–58 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 52 31 47 78 146 8 4 5 9 46
1958–59 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 45 38 59 97 197
1958–59 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 3 0 1 1 4
1959–60 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 67 8 18 26 119 3 0 1 1 2
1960–61 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 66 19 34 53 100 12 6 5 11 21
1961–62 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 25 52 77 97 12 6 15 21 19
1962–63 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65 31 45 76 69 6 3 2 5 2
1963–64 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 39 50 89 146 14 1 7 7 3 6 9 8
1964–65 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 28 59 87 154 8 0 6 14 3 7 10 53
1965–66 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 68 30 48 78 58 11 1 1 6 1 2 3 2
1966–67 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 35 62 97 12 8 1 5 6 2 2 4 2
1967–68 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 72 40 47 87 -3 14 13 2 8 11 5 7 12 6 3 0 0
1968–69 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 30 67 97 +17 52 7 3 2
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 39 47 86 +29 50 7 0 8 8 4 6 10 2 3 0 1
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 24 48 72 +21 85 7 0 4 18 5 13 18 16 1 0 1
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 26 39 65 +16 46 5 0 6 8 3 1 4 4 0 0 0
1972–73 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57 27 56 83 +31 32 7 1 5 15 7 13 20 8 1 0 2
1973–74 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 30 50 80 +24 46 6 2 1 11 5 6 11 8 1 0 1
1974–75 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 79 36 50 86 +14 48 12 0 6 8 3 4 7 12 1 0 1
1975–76 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 16 41 57 -4 37 6 0 1 4 0 0 0 4 0 0 0
1976–77 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57 19 30 49 -9 20 6 1 4 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
1977–78 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 18 41 59 +18 35 6 0 2 4 3 0 3 0 2 0 0
1978–79 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65 19 36 55 +3 34 4 0 1
1979–80 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 17 2 5 7 +2 12 0 0 0
OHA-Jr. totals 149 85 137 222 472 22 12 14 26 90
NHL totals 1394 541 926 1467 +159 1270 127 12 67 155 59 91 150 169 12 0 6

AccoladesEdit

  • Ranked 14th all-time in points, 18th in assists, 31st in goals and 40th in games played (at end of 2017-18 NHL season)
  • Won the Hart Memorial Trophy as most valuable player in 1967 & 1968
  • Won the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967 & 1968
  • Won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1967 and 1968
  • Named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967 & 1968
  • Named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 1965 & 1970
  • Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 & 1975
  • Won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1976
  • The only player in NHL history to win the Hart, Art Ross, and Lady Byng trophies in the same season, doing so in consecutive seasons (in 1966-67 and 1967-68).
  • Was named to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series, but he only played two games due to injuries
  • Was ranked number 17 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 greatest NHL players in 1998

RetirementEdit

After retiring, Mikita became a golf pro at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. His other business interests (under Stan Mikita Enterprises) included making the small plastic sauce containers that accompany chicken nuggets at McDonald's.

He owned Stan Mikita's Village Inn in the 1960s and 1970s which was located in the Oakbrook Shopping Center, Oak Brook, Illinois.

He provided the foreword to the children's book "My Man Stan" by Tim Wendel where he is featured as a main character in the book.

Mikita became a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks' organization and for three decades, the Blackhawks Alumni Association has hosted an annual golf tournament named in his honour.