Stan Mikita is the Blackhawks' all-time scoring leader with 1,467 points, a Stanley Cup champion, and a Hockey Hall of Famer. But he has no recollection of those memories.
The Blackhawks legend is suffering from Lewy body dementia. The Mikita family released a statement in January with the news, but Stan's wife, Jill, recently told Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc that "the Stan we knew is gone."
"His mind is completely gone," said Jill. "I don't like to use that term but there's no other way to describe it."
Family members of Mikita, friends, and former players visit Stan often. But it's certainly not the same as it used to be.
"It was really hard to see him that way," said Denis Savard. "Knowing Stan all these years and just to see him the way he is now is really heartbreaking. When I see him, I don't see him unhappy because I don't think he knows what's going on and that way it kind of comforts me somewhat."
On a day where the Blackhawks can win their third Stanley Cup in six years, Mikita isn't aware of any of it.
"He doesn't know he's missing out, he has no idea," Jill said. "If he was terminally ill and his mind was intact then I think I would be heartbroken. But right now, he has no idea."
The Blackhawks offered their support to Mikita when they found out the news midway through the regular season.
“Obviously he’s a big part of this family, the history of what it means to be a Blackhawk. You don’t feel the privilege to play for the Hawks if it’s not for people and players like Stan Mikita,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “Long after his playing days he’s still a humble, down-to-earth person who still takes the time to talk to everybody. He found ways to make other people feel good about themselves. That says more about him than anything else. We all look up to him and what he accomplished in the game of hockey. Our thoughts are definitely with him and his family.”
Mikita played for the Blackhawks for his entire 22-year career. He had his number raised to the rafters on Oct. 19, 1980 and had a bronze statue - along with Bobby Hull - unveiled outside of the United Center in October of 2011.