Today, the hockey world took a huge hit. Blackhawks’ legend and hockey innovator, Stan Mikita, has passed away. Although Stan is gone, he will never be forgotten, especially in the hearts of the Blackhawks’ faithful.

At the beginning of his NHL career, Mikita was a physical force and extremely aggressive. He had a change of heart after his young daughter questioned why her dad was sitting all by himself while her “uncles” sat on the bench with each other. From here on out, Stan was a different man.

He traded in penalty minutes for points. A year after getting the most penalty minutes in the league, Mikita actually won the Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship and he did it twice in his 22-year career. Although Stan Mikita was a superstar on the ice, he did not act like one off the ice.

He was known for his warm-hearted, down to earth personality. Blackhawks’ team historian, Bob Verdi, even went as far as calling Mikita the “least pretentious superstar you could imagine.” Many fans, coaches, and players share the same sentiment as Bob Verdi.

Life Before the NHL for Stan Mikita

Stan Mikita was born in what was formerly known as Czechoslovakia. In hopes of a better life, Stan was adopted by his aunt and uncle and moved to Canada at the age of 8. This is where Mikita’s hockey career began.

Stan had not even heard of or seen the game of hockey prior to moving to Canada. He saw the local kids in the street playing hockey and wanted in on the action. Mikita was then given the nickname, “Stosh”, because of his Slovakian heritage.

From the streets to the rink, Mikita went on to play for the Chicago Blackhawks’ amateur hockey team, the St. Catharines Teepees, for 3 years. Before being called up to the Blackhawks’ NHL roster, Mikita netted 97 points and led the entire Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) in scoring during his final season with the Teepees.

Stan Mikita Left His Mark On The NHL

After signing on with the Chicago Blackhawks, Stan Mikita went on to have an illustrious 22-year career and set multiple team records. Many of which still stand to this day. Here, you can see just how successful Mikita was in the NHL and he made it look easy.

                           Scor Scor          Scor Goal                        Shot
Season    Age  Tm  Lg   GP    G    A  PTS +/-  PIM   GW   S%                 Awards
1958-59    18 CBH NHL    3    0    1        1    4                                0
1959-60    19 CBH NHL   67    8   18   26  13  119    1  6.3               Calder-4
1960-61    20 CBH NHL   68   19   34   53  27   94    5                         9.3
1961-62    21 CBH NHL   70   25   52   77  12   97    5 12.0                   AS-1
1962-63    22 CBH NHL   65   31   45   76  26   69    6 13.2             AS-1Hart-2
1963-64    23 CBH NHL   70   39   50   89  21  146    7 12.8       AS-1Hart-5Ross-1
1964-65    24 CBH NHL   70   28   59   87  29  154    6 10.9             AS-2Ross-1
1965-66    25 CBH NHL   68   30   48   78   6   58    1 12.3                   AS-1
1966-67    26 CBH NHL   70   35   62   97  40   12    5 12.5 AS-1Byng-1Hart-1Ross-1
1967-68    27 CBH NHL   72   40   47   87   0   14    8 13.2 AS-1Byng-1Hart-1Ross-1
1968-69    28 CBH NHL   74   30   67   97  14   52    2                        10.0
1969-70    29 CBH NHL   76   39   47   86  27   50    8 11.1             AS-2Hart-4
1970-71    30 CBH NHL   74   24   48   72  20   85    4                        10.9
1971-72    31 CBH NHL   74   26   39   65  16   46    6                        14.1
1972-73    32 CBH NHL   57   27   56   83  31   32    5 15.3                 Hart-7
1973-74    33 CBH NHL   76   30   50   80  24   46    1 17.5                 Hart-6
1974-75    34 CBH NHL   79   36   50   86  14   48    6 14.2                   AS-6
1975-76    35 CBH NHL   48   16   41   57  -4   37    1                        10.1
1976-77    36 CBH NHL   57   19   30   49  -9   20    4                        14.8
1977-78    37 CBH NHL   76   18   41   59  17   35    2                         9.0
1978-79    38 CBH NHL   65   19   36   55   3   34    1                        12.9
1979-80    39 CBH NHL   17    2    5    7   2   12    0                         7.1
Career            NHL 1396  541  926 1467 329 1264   84                        12.1

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table

Mikita played alongside Bobby Hull for 14 years and they were one of the best tandems in NHL history. The two legendary Blackhawks were able to bring home a Stanley Cup in 1961 and came close again in 1971, but suffered a heartwrenching loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7.

Stan Mikita Was a Visionary and An Innovator

Besides the stats, trophies, and Stanley Cups, Mikita also helped to revolutionize the game in other ways. Stan Mikita took a shot to the head in 1968 which resulted in a concussion and severed ear. He would go on to design his own helmet with the help of an engineer from Riddell. Mikita was one of the 1st players in the NHL to wear a helmet.

Stan Mikita also was the first to play with a curved stick blade, but he actually discovered it by accident.

Here, Mikita tells the story of how he stumbled upon the idea of curving his stick blade to Sarah Spain, who now works for ESPN.

Fun Facts About Stan Mikita

Stan Mikita had deep ties to the city of Chicago, especially in the sports world. Fellow Blackhawk, Bobby Hull, and Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears stood up in Mikita’s wedding.

Stan Mikita also had a cameo in the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World which was set in Aurora, Illinois.

In 2011, the Blackhawks had statues built to honor Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull.

Stan Mikita was not just another meathead hockey player. He was a man with integrity and the drive to be the best. He wanted to make everyone around him better as well. Mikita singlehandedly changed the game of hockey forever and made it what it is today. There is no doubt in my mind that his legacy will live on forever. He truly transcends hockey and the sport would not be what it is today without him.

Stan will surely be missed by family, friends, and the entire hockey community. On behalf of everyone here at Sports Mockery, I would like to extend our condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.

For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author @Certified_TonyG on Twitter.