Blackhawks legend Mikita dies at 78

There is a statue of Stan Mikita near the United Center in Chicago. (Reuters pic)

CHICAGO: Hall of Famer Stan Mikita, a two-time NHL MVP with the Chicago Blackhawks, died on Tuesday. He was 78.

Mikita, the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, had been battling a form of dementia since 2015.

“With great sorrow, the Mikita family announces that Stan passed away on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, at the age of 78,” the Mikita family said in a statement distributed by the Blackhawks. “He was surrounded by his loving family whom he fiercely loved. Details of planned services will be released when they become available. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time.”

Mikita played centre for the Blackhawks from 1958-80 and famously teamed with fellow star Bobby Hull in Chicago.

He won back-to-back MVP awards (1966-67, 1967-68) and was the NHL’s leading scorer on four occasions during the 1960s. He scored 1,467 career points and ranks second in Blackhawks history with 541 goals.

Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. There is a statue of him outside the United Center.

“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.”

The Blackhawks went to five Stanley Cup Finals during Mikita’s career, winning the Cup in 1961.

Mikita also won the Lady Byng sportsmanship award twice, and was also a nine-time All-Star.

He scored 150 points (59 goals, 91 assists) in 155 career playoff games.