It is being reported by multiple sources that Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita has passed away at the age of 78 years old.
A statement by the Mikita family read:
"With great sorrow, the Mikita family announces that Stan passed away on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, at the age of 78. 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."
Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz followed with a statement of his own saying there's no describing how much Mikita will be missed nor the sadness over the news of his passing. Mikita "left an imprint that will forever be etched in the hearts of fans - past, present and future."
Mikita was a legend in the history of Chicago Blackhawks hockey. He played his entire 22-year career (extremely rare in today's NHL) with the Blackhawks organization and led the team to the 1961 Stanley Cup. He won the Art Ross Trophy four times (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968) and became the Blackhawks all-time franchise leader in points (1,467) and games played (1,394). In 1967 and 1968, Mikita also won the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy respectively.
Mikita began his NHL career during the 1958-59 season and played until 1980, the same year his No. 21 sweater was retired. In 1983, he made the Hall of Fame and was a familiar face, even for new hockey fans, as an ambassador for the team all the way up to his passing.
As the Blackhawks organization put it when they Tweeted news of his death, "Stan Mikita will be always remembered as a champion, an innovator and a master of the game. He embodied the Chicago Blackhawks."
Mikita was and is arguably one of the most important figures in hockey. He was a fantastic player but also a pioneer in terms of player safety. He changed the game forever when he introduced the curved blade to the hockey stick.
He was hard-working, unselfish and a true hockey superstar in many ways. Since the news of his passing, social media has been flooded with condolences to the Mikita family.