The Chicago Blackhawk’s made history tonight by winning the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. They also created long lasting memories…at least for some.
On the same day they did this, Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune shared a touching story about Stan Mikita, Chicago Blackhawk’s legend and NHL Hall of Famer. Although Stan has been associated with the team for the past 59 years (including all 22 years as a player), the win will likely have little significance to him nor will he remember it.
In January of this year, the Chicago Tribune informed us that “Stan has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease, and is currently under the care of compassionate and understanding care givers,” Since then, it has become known that he has no memory of his past nor his family. Jill, Stan’s wife of 52 years states “His mind is completely gone.”
While others are basking in the moment, Stan has no memory of his career and “has no idea” he’s missing out on the Hawks’ third Stanley Cup Final series in six seasons, according to his wife.
That’s sad news, given his history with this team. Stan’s list of awards and achievements is short of extraordinary. Just to name a few:
- He is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 1,467 points and is second to Hull in goals with 541.
- Ranked 14th all-time in points, 17th in assists, 30th in goals, and 35th in games played (at end of 2013–14 NHL season)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975
- The only player in NHL history to win the Hart, Art Ross, and Lady Byng trophies in the same season, doing so in consecutive seasons, in 1966–67 and 1967–68
- In 1998, he was ranked number 17 on The Hockey News‘ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, making him the highest-ranked player born outside of Canada, although he was trained in Canada
- The Blackhawks retired #21 on October 19, 1980; Mikita was the first Blackhawks player to have his number retired
- He was inducted in to the NHL Hall of Fame in 1983
- In 2011, statues of Mikita and Bobby Hull were installed outside the United Center, where the Blackhawks currently play
Stan would have been proud of this year’s team who came from behind in the Playoffs after trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 and finally winning the series 4-2 after winning 3 games in a row.
Stan’s story serves as a reminder that life is short and that it’s important to enjoy the time that we have. Not only that, but we never know when we may no longer have that opportunity. So often, we get caught up in reaching goals and pursuing dreams that we fail to enjoy the ride. In his book “Peace is Every Step,” Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the concept of Mindfulness. He explains that “in the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment.” Mindfulness teaches us “the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.”
Stan’s condition came as a sharp and sudden surprise, according to his family. His wife describes a dinner when she knew “that’s when it hit” and “it was bang, that was the end…he never has come back from it.” And that’s the how life is. We never know when we may no longer be able to enjoy what is important to us. Tonight’s spectacular game and Stan’s story serve as a good reminder of this lesson.
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawk’s. Hopefully they are enjoying this moment. Our thoughts go out to Stan and his family. Certainly, he would have wanted to share this lesson, if he could. In response to the news of his condition, Stan’s daughter stated “We’re not the only ones going through this. And if we’re able to give a description of what he’s going through and there is someone else out there who needs help, that’s how my dad was. He always wanted to help someone else.”
Thanks Stan…for your help, lesson and hockey memories. You truly were a Hall of Famer!