Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita dies at 78

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Sad news in the hockey world on Tuesday as the Chicago Blackhawks announced that Hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has died at the age of 78.

From Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz:

“There are no words to describe our sadness over Stan’s passing. He meant so much to the Chicago Blackhawks, to the game of hockey, and to all of Chicago. He left an imprint that will forever be etched in the hearts of fans – past, present and future. Stan made everyone he touched a better person. My wife Marilyn and I, joined by the entire Wirtz family, extend our prayers and thoughts to Jill and the Mikita family. ‘Stosh’ will be deeply missed, but never, ever forgotten.”

Mikita was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Ontario, Canada when he was eight years old. He would join the Blackhawks during the 1958-59 NHL season and spent his entire 22-year NHL career with the franchise, helping them capture the 1961 Stanley Cup. Along with teammate Bobby Hull, he would be one of the first players to curve his stick.

His career would come to an end in 1980 after 1,396 NHL games. Mikita finished with 541 goals and 1,467 points making him the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Along with one Cup, he also won the Art Ross Trophy four times, the Lady Byng Trophy twice and the Hart Trophy in 1967 and 1968. He remains the only player to win the Art Ross, Hart and Byng in the same season — something he did twice.

During his playing days, Mikita partnered with a Chicago businessman to create the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association to help those deaf and hard-of-hearing build confidence and enjoy the game. The AHIHA is still going 45 years later.

The Blackhawks would retire his No. 21 months after he hung up his skates and the Hockey Hall of Fame came calling in 1983. In 2011, a statue was installed outside of United Center. During All-Star Weekend in 2017 he was named on the list of the NHL’s 100 greatest players.

Mikita’s name entered the pop culture world in 1992 when the big hang out spot for Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar in the movie “Wayne’s World” was named Stan Mikita’s Donuts.

“I put in 22 years as a pro athlete and they remembered me from a doughnut shop in a movie,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1997.

In 2015, when he was 75 years old, news came out that Mikita had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a brain disorder that affects the memory and can cause hallucinations and sleep disorders. “Whatever world he is in, he’s content,” his daughter Jane told the Chicago Tribune.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.