R.I.P. Stan Mikita!

Started by Foxhound, August 08, 2018, 07:33:12 PM

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Legendary Chicago Blackhawk center and Hall of Famer Stan Mikita passed away yesterday 7 August 2018. He'd undergone radiation treatment for oral cancer back in 2011 and had then been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2015 which had progressively robbed him of all his memories.

The early years of his stay on this earth though were as poignant as his last. He was born Stanislav Guoth on 20 May 1940 in the town of Sokolče in what is now the Slovak Republic. But a coup brought a Communist regime to power in Czechoslovakia in February 1948. Late in the year Stan?s parents somehow managed to send their little boy to what they hoped was a better life with an uncle and aunt in St. Catharines, Ontario at which point Stan got himself a new last name.

Being now in Canada, Stan was infected with the same enthusiasm for hockey as was every other little boy his age. Stan though got very good at the game very quickly. He played Junior A hockey for the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association and graduated to the big club as an eighteen year old in the 1958-59 season.

He went on to win the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer in the NHL in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968 and won the Hart Memorial trophy as the NHL's MVP in 1967 and 1968. He was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1968 and also made it onto the Second All-Star Team in 1965 and 1970.

Since the other kids made fun of his less than perfect English, Stan initially had quite the chip on his shoulder and played a very feisty game. Veteran Blackhawk "Terrible" Ted Lindsay who was similarly short in stature and very much prone to scrappy truculent play was also a bad influence in this regard when Stan joined the team. But when late in the 1964-65 season his young daughter asked her mommy why daddy was always just sitting by himself (in the penalty box), Stan had an epiphany. You couldn't score from the penalty box or help your teammates in any way. He accordingly resolved to clean up his play.

His efforts bore fruit. He won the Lady Byng Trophy for combining excellence with gentlemanly play in 1967 and 1968. He is thus the only player in the history of the NHL to have won the Art Ross, Hart and Lady Byng Trophies all in the same year, and he did it twice in a row!

Stan Mikita would retire after the 1979-80 season as the Blackhawks' all time regular season leader in games played with 1394, assists with 926 and points with 1467. He was truly Mr. Blackhawk.

It was also Stan Mikita (and not Bobby Hull) who invented the curved blade to which all players have gravitated ever since. He'd bent his stick by getting it stuck in the boards somehow in practice. When he shot the puck in annoyance after "ruining" his stick, he realized his shot had more zip. He then took to deliberately bending his sticks and much to the dismay of opposing goaltenders the other Blackhawks swiftly followed suit.

He was also among the first professional hockey players to start wearing a helmet full time. When an errant shot took off a piece of his ear (fortunately stitched on again), he decided that a helmet was probably a good idea. (Nor did he need to demonstrate to anybody just how tough he was by that point in his career!)

While some may say that Stan Mikita was the first European star in the NHL, this is a lie. He'd learned his hockey in Canada as a Canadian and was on Team Canada in 1972 for the Summit Series against the evil Soviet team. In fact he did his best to teach teammates Euro slang terms for male genitalia to help them rile their opponents!

The Chicago Blackhawks unveiled statues of both Stan Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull outside the United Center in the fall of 2011:

R.I.P. to a Canadian sporting legend.

Radically Canadian!


As a youth I became a huge fan & pretended I was him numerous times while playing street hockey ....... R I P
          HUSTLE & MUSCLE


Well before my time but RIP

Never heard a bad thing about the guy his play anything. Sounded like a class act.


Old Rusty

Great player, one of the best.  This guy could adjust his game according to what was required. 

I knew nothing of his junior history and his early Baptism in the Canadian game.  Thanks to the OP for the great informative post.
As you ramble on through life, Brother,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
And not upon the hole.


Truly a sad day for hockey, R.I.P. Stanley!!