Blackhawks legend Mikita suffering from dementia
As Chicago sports fans mourn the loss of Cubs legend Ernie Banks at services this weekend, another Chicago sports icon is struggling with serious health issues.
The family of NHL legend Stan Mikita released this statement Friday morning regarding the declining health of the 74-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer:
"Stan is facing some serious health issues. Stan has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy Body dementia, a progressive disease, and is currently under the care of compassionate and understanding care givers."
The statement also said that the family appreciates the support Mikita has received over the many years he has played, worked and lived in the Chicago area, and that "they hope the fans will keep him in their thoughts and prayers and respect his privacy during this difficult time."
Mikita played his entire 22-year career with the Blackhawks -- from 1958-80 -- and he became the first Hawks player to have his jersey number (21) retired. In 2011, the Blackhawks erected bronze statues of Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull outside the United Center.
Mikita was on the Blackhawks team with Hull that won the Stanley Cup in 1961. He is the franchise's all-time leader in games played, points and assists and is second in goals. He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. Among other NHL award he collected during his career, Mikita captured the Hart Trophy (most valuable player) in 1967 and 1968. As the NHL's leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968, he earned the Art Ross Trophy. Mikita has been a Blackhawks team ambassador since 2007.
"We are thinking of Stan and his family at this difficult time and wish him well," team officials said in a statement released Friday.
Lewy Body dementia is a progressive disease that causes problems with thinking, movement, behavior and mood. It's associated with abnormal protein deposits in the brain called Lewy bodies. There is no known cure, but people can live with the disease for a number of years. How quickly symptoms develop vary from person to person.
Associated Press contributed to this report.