Stan Mikita

Stanley Mikita[1] (born Stanislav Guoth; May 20, 1940 – August 7, 2018) was a Slovak-born Canadian professional ice hockey player for the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League, generally regarded as the best centre of the 1960s.[2][3] In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players.[4]

Stan Mikita
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1983
Born (1940-05-20)May 20, 1940
Sokolče, Slovak Republic
Died August 7, 2018(2018-08-07) (aged 78)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 169 lb (77 kg; 12 st 1 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Right
Played for Chicago Black Hawks
National team  Canada
Playing career 19581980

Early life

Mikita was born in Sokolče, Slovak Republic, as Stanislav Guoth and raised in a small farming community there until late 1948,[5] but moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, as a young boy. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Anna and Joe Mikita, who gave him their surname.[6][5]

Playing career

After three starring junior seasons with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association, Mikita was promoted to the parent Chicago Black Hawks in 1959–60. In his second full year, in 1961, the Black Hawks won their third Stanley Cup. The young centre led the entire league in goals during the playoffs, scoring a total of six.[7]

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 and Doug Mohns.[6] Combining skilled defense and a reputation as one of the game's best faceoff men using his innovative curved stick, Mikita led the league in scoring four times in the decade, tying Bobby Hull's year-old single-season scoring mark in 1966–67 with 97 points[8] (a mark broken two years later by former teammate Phil Esposito[9] and currently held by Wayne Gretzky).[10] 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.[11]

In his early years, Mikita was among the most penalized players in the league, but he then decided to play a cleaner game and went on to win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for particularly sportsmanlike conduct combined with excellence twice. Mikita's 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?"[5] The camera had just shown Mikita in the penalty box again.[12]

During his playing career, in 1973, Mikita teamed up with Chicago businessman Irv Tiahnybik to form the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA), to bring together deaf and hard-of-hearing hockey players from all over the country, and he founded the Stan Mikita School for the Hearing Impaired, inspired by a friend's deaf son who was an aspiring goalie. He also helped bring the Special Olympics to Chicago, bringing his family out to volunteer at races.[5]

Curved stick use

Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull were a well-known forward duo in the 1960s, gaining notoriety for using sticks with curved blades.[13][14] Such sticks gave a comparative advantage to shooters versus goaltenders. As a result, the NHL limited blade curvature to ½" in 1970.[15] Mikita reportedly began the practice after his standard stick got caught in a bench door, bending the blade before he hit the ice; he soon was borrowing a propane torch from team trainers to create a deliberate curve.[5]

Mikita was also one of the first players to wear a helmet full-time, after a December 1967 game in which an errant shot tore a piece off one of his ears (it was stitched back on).[5]

Retirement

Mikita's later years were marred by chronic back injuries, leading to his retirement during the 1979–80 season.[6] 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. Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983,[16] and into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

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.[5] He owned Stan Mikita's Village Inn in the 1960s and 1970s, located in the Oakbrook Shopping Center, Oak Brook, Illinois.[17]

Mikita provided the foreword to the children's book My Man Stan by Tim Wendel.[18] Mikita is featured as a main character in the book.

He became a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks' organization,[19] and in fall of 2011, the Blackhawks raised a statue honouring Mikita at Gate 3½ at Chicago's United Center.[20] For three decades the Blackhawks Alumni Association has hosted an annual golf tournament named in Mikita's honour.[5]

Mikita ranks 14th in regular season points scored in the history of the NHL,[21] and just three other players (Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, and Nicklas Lidström) have appeared in more games while playing for only one team over their careers.[22]

Mikita appeared as himself in a cameo role in the film Wayne's World, which featured a "Stan Mikita" doughnut shop, spoofing the Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons (co-founded by Hockey Hall of Fame member Tim Horton).[5] A restaurant named "Stan Mikita's" and closely resembling the movie's version opened in 1994 at the Virginia amusement park Kings Dominion[23] and at Paramount Carowinds in Charlotte.[24]

Illness and death

On May 24, 2011, Mikita was diagnosed with oral cancer and began external beam radiation therapy.[25] On January 30, 2015, the Chicago Tribune released this statement from his wife: "Stan has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease, and was under the care of compassionate and understanding care givers".[26] In June, 2015, it was revealed that due to his illness, Mikita had no memory of his former life and was being cared for by his wife Jill.[27]

Mikita died at the age of 78 on August 7, 2018. He was survived by his wife, four children and nine grandchildren.[28][29]

On September 14, 2019, it was reported by Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the Boston University CTE Center, that upon performing a posthumous study of Mikita's brain, it was found that he suffered from stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, at the time of his death. This marked Mikita as the first hall of famer to ever have been diagnosed with the disease.

Career statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM PP SH GW GPGAPtsPIMPPSHGW
1956–57 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 52163147129 14891744
1957–58 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 52314778146 845946
1958–59 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 45385997197
1958–59 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 30114
1959–60 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 6781826119 30112
1960–61 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 66193453100 12651121
1961–62 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 7025527797 126152119
1962–63 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 6531457669 63252
1963–64 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 703950891461417 73698
1964–65 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70285987154806 14371053
1965–66 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 68304878581111 61232
1966–67 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 7035629712815 62242
1967–68 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 72404787-3141328 1157126300
1968–69 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74306797+1752732
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76394786+2950708 846102301
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74244872+2185704 185131816101
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74263965+1646506 83144000
1972–73 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57275683+3132715 15713208102
1973–74 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76305080+2446621 1156118101
1974–75 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 79365086+14481206 834712101
1975–76 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48164157-437601 40004000
1976–77 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57193049-920614 20110000
1977–78 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76184159+1835602 43030200
1978–79 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65193655+334401
1979–80 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 17257+212000
OHA-Jr. totals 14985137222472 2212142690
NHL totals 13945419261467+15912701271267 15559911501691206

Statistics via HockeyDB[30]

Awards and accomplishments

See also

References

  1. "Stanley Mikita Obituary - Hinsdale, IL | Chicago Tribune".
  2. Diamond, Dan (1998). Total Hockey. Toronto: Total Sports Publishing. p. 1794. ISBN 978-0-8362-7114-0.
  3. Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley (1999). 20th Century Hockey Chronicle. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, Ltd. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-7853-3504-7.
  4. Verdi, Bob (January 1, 2017). "Stan Mikita: 100 Greatest NHL Players". National Hockey League.
  5. Prewitt, Alex (January 24, 2017). "Stan Mikita's legacy and grace endure even as dementia afflicts the Blackhawks legend". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  6. "Legends of Hockey – Stan Mikita". Legends of Hockey. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  7. "1961 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Summary". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  8. "1966-67 NHL Summary". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  9. "1968-69 NHL Leaders". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  10. "NHL & WHA Single Season Leaders and Records for Points". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  11. "2015-16 NHL Leaders". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  12. Mikita, Stan (1970). I Play to Win. New York: Pocket Books. p. 76. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  13. "The shifts that changed the game: The curved blade". Arctic Ice Hockey. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  14. "Who made the first curved hockey stick?". prostockhockey.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  15. The 10 best player-inspired NHL rules changes
  16. "Mikita, Stan -- Honoured Player -- Legends of Hockey". hhof.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  17. Markus, Robert (December 14, 1968). "Stan Mikita Is on the Go All the Time". Chicago Tribune.
  18. "My Man Stan". Sun Bear Press. May 12, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  19. "Hall of Famer Named Ambassador". November 13, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  20. "Hull-Mikita: Unveiling of statues moving moment for Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  21. "NHL Points Leaders – All-Time – National Hockey League". ESPN. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  22. "Most NHL Games Played with Single Franchise". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  23. "Kings Dominion welcomes world of Wayne and Garth". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  24. "Carowinds Zone > Carowinds History > Paramount Parks". carowindszone.net. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  25. "Chicago – Chicago : News : Politics : Things To Do : Sports". Chicago Sun-Times. June 16, 2012.
  26. "Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita facing 'serious health issues'".
  27. Kuc, Chris (June 15, 2015). "For Stan Mikita, all the Blackhawks memories are gone". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  28. "Blackhawks legend, Hall of Famer Mikita dies". ESPN. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  29. Roumeliotis, Charlie (August 7, 2018). "Blackhawks all-time leading scorer Stan Mikita dies at 78". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  30. "Stan Mikita hockey statistics and profile". HockeyDB. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  31. "Stan Mikita Stats". Hockey Reference. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  32. "Stan Mikita career stats". eurohockey.net. March 12, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  33. "NHL All-Star Game History & Statistics". Hockey Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  34. Kay, Jason (April 2, 2015). "The Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time, Throwback Style". The Hockey News. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  35. "Stan Mikita, Hall of Fame hockey star with Chicago Blackhawks, dies at 78". The Washington Post. August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018. His No. 21 jersey was the first to be retired by the team...
  36. "ZIMNÝ ŠTADIÓN NÁM MÔŽU ZÁVIDIEŤ (+FOTO)". Ružomberský hlas (in Slovak). September 15, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  37. Moving moment for Hull and Mikita, Chicago Tribune
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Pit Martin
Chicago Black Hawks captain
1976–77
with Pit Martin
Succeeded by
Keith Magnuson
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bobby Hull
Winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy
1967, 1968
Succeeded by
Phil Esposito
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Bobby Hull
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1964, 1965
1967, 1968
Succeeded by
Bobby Hull
Phil Esposito
Preceded by
Alex Delvecchio
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1967, 1968
Succeeded by
Alex Delvecchio
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