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Stan Mikita
Born May 20, 1940
Sokolče, Slovak Republic
Died August 7, 2018 (aged 78),
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height
Weight
5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
169 lb (77 kg; 12 st 1 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Right
Played for Chicago Blackhawks
Ntl. team  Canada
Playing career 1958–1980
Hall of Fame, 1983


  • Stanley Mikita[1] (born Stanislav Guoth; May 20, 1940 – August 7, 2018) was a Slovak–Canadian 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] He became the first Slovak-born player who won the Stanley Cup in 1961.

Contents[]

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Playing career
    • 2.1 Curved stick use
  • 3 Retirement
  • 4 Illness and death
  • 5 Career statistics
    • 5.1 Regular season and playoffs
  • 6 Awards and accomplishments
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Early life[]

Mikita was born in Sokolče, Slovak Republic, as Stanislav Guoth and raised in a small farming community until 1948[5] when he moved to St. Catharines, Ontario. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Anna and Joe Mikita who had emigrated from Slovakia to Canada 20 years earlier and were childless. They came to Slovakia to visit the Guoth family before Christmas in 1948 and took the 8-year-old Stan with them when they went back to Canada. His parents believed that there was a brighter future for him in Canada than in then Communist Czechoslovakia. His aunt and uncle also gave him their surname.

Stan considered himself Slovak, and mentioned in interviews how proud he was of his Slovak origin. [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]

Internationally, Mikita played two games of the Summit Series in 1972 for Canada against Soviet Union, both of them in Canada, as well as two exhibition games also during the Summit Series, one against Sweden in Stockholm and one against Czechoslovakia in Prague. He also played several exhibition games for Czechoslovakia in summer 1967 when he came to his country of origin to visit his family.[13]

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.[14][15] Such sticks gave a comparative advantage to shooters versus goaltenders. As a result, the NHL limited blade curvature to ½" in 1970.[16] 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 in 2009

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,[17] 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.[18]

Mikita provided the foreword to the children's book My Man Stan by Tim Wendel.[19] Mikita is featured as a main character in the book.

He became a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks' organization,[20] and in fall of 2011, the Blackhawks raised a statue honouring Mikita at Gate 3½ at Chicago's United Center.[21] 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,[22] 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.[23]

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[24] and at Paramount Carowinds in Charlotte.[25]

Illness and death[]

On May 24, 2011, Mikita was diagnosed with oral cancer and began external beam radiation therapy.[26] 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".[27] In June, 2015, it was stated that Mikita had no memory of his former life and was being cared for by his wife Jill.[28]

Mikita died at the age of 78 on August 7, 2018. He was survived by his wife, four children and nine grandchildren.[29][30] On September 14, 2019, it was reported by 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.[31] This marked Mikita as the first Hall of Famer to ever have been diagnosed with the disease.[32]

Career statistics[]

Regular season and playoffs[]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1956–57 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 52 16 31 47 129 14 8 9 17 44
1957–58 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 52 31 47 78 146 8 4 5 9 46
1958–59 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 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 7 3 6 9 8
1964–65 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 28 59 87 154 14 3 7 10 53
1965–66 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 68 30 48 78 58 6 1 2 3 2
1966–67 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 35 62 97 12 6 2 2 4 2
1967–68 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 72 40 47 87 14 11 5 7 12 6
1968–69 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 30 67 97 52
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 39 47 86 50 8 4 6 10 2
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 24 48 72 85 18 5 13 18 16
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 26 39 65 46 8 3 1 4 4
1972–73 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57 27 56 83 32 15 7 13 20 8
1973–74 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 30 50 80 46 11 5 6 11 8
1974–75 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 79 36 50 86 48 8 3 4 7 12
1975–76 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 16 41 57 37 4 0 0 0 4
1976–77 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 57 19 30 49 20 2 0 1 1 0
1977–78 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 76 18 41 59 35 4 3 0 3 0
1978–79 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65 19 36 55 34
1979–80 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 17 2 5 7 12
NHL totals 1394 541 926 1467 1270 155 59 91 150 169

* Stanley Cup Champion.

Statistics via HockeyDB[33]

Awards and accomplishments[]

  • Ranked 14th all-time in points, 18th in assists, 31st in goals, and 40th in games played (at end of 2017-18 NHL season)[34]
  • Won the Hart Memorial Trophy as most valuable player in 1967 and 1968[35]
  • Won the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968[35]
  • Won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1967 and 1968[35]
  • Stanley Cup champion (1961)[30]
  • Named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1968[35]
  • Named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 1965 and 1970.[35]
  • Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975[36]
  • Won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1976[35]
  • 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[30]
  • Was named to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series, but only played two games due to injuries[6]
  • In 1998, he was ranked number 17 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 greatest NHL players[37]
  • Mikita's number 21 was retired by the Blackhawks on October 19, 1980; he was the first player to have his jersey number retired by the Blackhawks[38]
  • Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983[17]
  • Mikita was inducted into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002
  • The ice rink in Ružomberok, Slovakia, is named after him[39]
  • In 2011, statues of Mikita and Bobby Hull were installed outside the United Center, where the Blackhawks currently play[40]
  • The first player of Slovak origin who won the Stanley Cup

See also[]

  • List of NHL statistical leaders
  • List of NHL players with 1000 points
  • List of NHL players with 500 goals
  • List of NHL players with 1000 games played

References[]

External links[]

Preceded by
Pit Martin
Chicago Blackhawks captains
1976–77
Succeeded by
Keith Magnuson
Preceded by
Bobby Hull
Winner of the Hart Trophy 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