Stan Mikita, who played his entire 22-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks, is turning 75 on May 20. Nicknamed Stosh, he was one of the most dynamic centers to ever play the game of hockey, scoring 541 goals and 926 assists before being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
As a kid, I remember holding my breath as he, and his longtime playing partner, Bobby Hull, would storm down the ice to score goal after goal. While Bobby dazzled with his speed, Stosh was a savvy puck handler who outsmarted his opponents time and time again. He was truly thrilling to watch.
Early on, Stosh had a reputation for fighting and racking up penalty minutes, but after his daughter asked him why he spent so much time sitting down at games (in the penalty box), he changed his ways and spent more time skating and scoring.
Bronze statues of him and Bobby Hull were erected outside the United Center in 2011, and there are always fans lined up waiting to take selfies with these two icons of the NHL. As a goodwill ambassador for the Chicago Blackhawks, Stosh can often be found cheering on the home team wearing his trademark plaid pants. However, earlier this year he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, and he is now fighting a battle much more challenging than the ones he faced on the ice.
Happy birthday to Stosh, a great guy, a legend in the world of hockey and a Blackhawk forever! If you want to know more about Stan Mikita, below are some books and even a movie guaranteed to satisfy your craving for stories of his on- and off-the-ice exploits.
For the Love of Hockey: NHL stars and legends reveal key moments in their careers. Includes stories from Mikita, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretsky.
A Year in the History of The-- Chicago Blackhawks by John Morrison tells of the events leading up to the Chicago Blackhawks, led by Mikita and Hull, winning the Stanley Cup in 1961.
Forever A Blackhawk, Mikita's autobiography, recounts his youth in Czechoslovakia to his fabled playing career with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Wayne's World is, of course, about the exploits of Wayne and Garth, but Mikita makes a cameo, playing himself as a retired hockey player who owns a doughnut shop frequented by the boys. A classic!