Stan Mikita

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Stan Mikita
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1983
Stan Mikita Chex card.jpg
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 teamFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
Playing career 19581980

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]

The Slovaks are a nation and West Slavic ethnic group native to Slovakia who share a common ancestry, culture, history and speak the Slovak language.

Ice hockey team sport played on ice using sticks, skates, and a puck

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually consisting of six players each: one goaltender, and five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team.

Chicago Blackhawks hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Chicago Blackhawks are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They have won six Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926. The Blackhawks are one of the "Original Six" NHL teams along with the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Since 1994, the club's home rink is the United Center, which they share with the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls. The club had previously played for 65 years at Chicago Stadium.

Contents

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]

Sokolče is a former village which was situated in the Liptov region of Slovakia. The village was inundated by the reservoir Liptovská Mara in 1975.

St. Catharines City in Ontario, Canada

St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada's Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in Ontario, with 96.13 square kilometres of land and 133,113 residents in 2016. It lies in Southern Ontario, 51 kilometres (32 mi) south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and is 19 kilometres (12 mi) inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. It is the northern entrance of the Welland Canal. Residents of St. Catharines are known as St. Cathariners. St. Catharines carries the official nickname "The Garden City" due to its 1,000 acres (4 km2) of parks, gardens and trails.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

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 St. Catharines Teepees were a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey Association from 1947 to 1962. The team was based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Ontario Hockey Association

The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) is the governing body for the majority of junior and senior level ice hockey teams in the Province of Ontario. The OHA is sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Federation along with the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. Other Ontario sanctioning bodies along with the OHF include the Hockey Eastern Ontario and Hockey Northwestern Ontario. The OHA control 3 tiers of junior hockey; the "Tier 2 Junior "A", Junior "B", Junior "C", and one senior hockey league, Allan Cup Hockey.

The 1959–60 NHL season was the 43rd season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup winners as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to none for their fifth straight Stanley Cup.

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]

Ab McDonald Canadian ice hockey player

Alvin Brian "Ab" McDonald was a Canadian ice hockey forward.

Doug Mohns professional ice hockey player

Douglas Allen "Diesel" Mohns was a professional ice hockey player who played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League from 1953–54 until 1974–75. Mohns twice won the most coveted prize in junior hockey, the Memorial Cup. He played on the 1951 and 1953 Barrie Flyers teams.

Bobby Hull Canadian ice hockey player

Robert Marvin Hull, OC is a Canadian former ice hockey player who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. His blonde hair, legendary skating speed, end to end rushes, and the ability to shoot the puck at very high velocity, were all a part of the player known as "The Golden Jet". His talents were such that one or two opposing players were often assigned just to shadow him—a tribute to his explosiveness.

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]

Penalty (ice hockey) punishment for breaking the rules in ice hockey

A penalty in ice hockey is a punishment for an infringement of the rules. Most penalties are enforced by sending the offending player to a penalty box for a set number of minutes. During the penalty the player may not participate in play. Penalties are called and enforced by the referee, or in some cases, the linesman. The offending team may not replace the player on the ice, leaving them short-handed as opposed to full strength. When the opposing team is said to be on a power play, they will have one more player on the ice than the short-handed team. The short-handed team is said to be "on the penalty kill" until the penalty expires and the penalized player returns to play. While standards vary somewhat between leagues, most leagues recognize several common varieties of penalties, as well as common infractions.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, formerly known as the Lady Byng Trophy, is presented each year to the National Hockey League "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability". The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy has been awarded 88 times to 53 different players since it was first awarded in 1925. The original trophy was donated to the league by Lady Byng of Vimy, then–viceregal consort of Canada.

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]

The American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA) was established in 1973 by Chicago Blackhawks Stan Mikita, and a local business man by the name of Irv Tiahnybik, after Irv discovered the difficulties his hard-of-hearing son was having with his hearing teammates. The hockey camp grew quickly, and drew deaf and hard-of-hearing ice hockey players from all over the country.

Special Olympics sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities

Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to 5 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world—including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 100,000 events a year. Like the International Paralympic Committee, the Special Olympics organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee; however, unlike the Paralympic Games, Special Olympics World Games are not held in the same year or in conjunction with the Olympic Games.

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 in 2009 Stan Mikita.jpg
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, [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]

Career statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Season TeamLeagueGP G A Pts +/- PIM PPSHGWGPGAPtsPIMPPSHGW
1956–57 St. Catharines Teepees OHA-Jr. 5216314712914891744
1957–58 St. Catharines TeepeesOHA-Jr.52314778146845946
1958–59 St. Catharines TeepeesOHA-Jr.45385997197
1958–59 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 30114
1959–60 Chicago Black HawksNHL678182611930112
1960–61 Chicago Black HawksNHL6619345310012651121
1961–62 Chicago Black HawksNHL7025527797126152119
1962–63 Chicago Black HawksNHL653145766963252
1963–64 Chicago Black HawksNHL70395089146141773698
1964–65 Chicago Black HawksNHL7028598715480614371053
1965–66 Chicago Black HawksNHL6830487858111161232
1966–67 Chicago Black HawksNHL703562971281562242
1967–68 Chicago Black HawksNHL72404787-31413281157126300
1968–69 Chicago Black HawksNHL74306797+1752732
1969–70 Chicago Black HawksNHL76394786+2950708846102301
1970–71 Chicago Black HawksNHL74244872+2185704185131816101
1971–72 Chicago Black HawksNHL74263965+164650683144000
1972–73 Chicago Black HawksNHL57275683+313271515713208102
1973–74 Chicago Black HawksNHL76305080+24466211156118101
1974–75 Chicago Black HawksNHL79365086+14481206834712101
1975–76 Chicago Black HawksNHL48164157-43760140004000
1976–77 Chicago Black HawksNHL57193049-92061420110000
1977–78 Chicago Black HawksNHL76184159+183560243030200
1978–79 Chicago Black HawksNHL65193655+334401
1979–80 Chicago Black HawksNHL17257+212000
OHA-Jr. totals149851372224722212142690
NHL totals13945419261467+1591270127126715559911501691206

Statistics via HockeyDB [30]

Awards and accomplishments

See also

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References

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  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.
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  8. "1966-67 NHL Summary". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
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  11. "2015-16 NHL Leaders". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
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  14. "Who made the first curved hockey stick?". www.prostockhockey.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  15. The 10 best player-inspired NHL rules changes
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  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