Stan Mikita

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Study shows hockey great Stan Mikita suffered from CTE

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CHICAGO — A posthumous study of Stan Mikita’s brain shows the hockey Hall of Famer suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the time of his death a year ago.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the BU CTE Center, announced the findings during the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Chicago Honors Dinner on Friday night at the request of Mikita’s family.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. It is known to cause memory loss, violent moods and other cognitive difficulties. It can only be diagnosed after death.

Mikita is the eighth former NHL player diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a list that also includes Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming.

”The NHL is nowhere on this,” McKee said. ”They have completely denied a link. They have denied any responsibility, and it’s clear that they are just protecting the bottom line.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has consistently denied there is a conclusive link between repeated blows to the head and CTE. A message was left late Friday night seeking comment from the league about Mikita’s diagnosis.

The NHL formed a concussion study group in 1997, cracked down on certain hits after the 2004-05 lockout, instituted a formal protocol and a rule against head contact in 2010, and added spotters in 2015.

McKee said she feels the concussion spotters are being too lax in having players examined.

”They need to really, really just be very conservative about what represents a hit,” she said, ”because what looks like a minor hit to you or me when we’re looking at it can be a devastating hit to the player, and we need to keep these players safe. That’s how these leagues got to be what they are.”

Mikita, who helped Chicago to the 1961 Stanley Cup title, died last August at age 78. He had been in poor health after being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia – a progressive disease that causes problems with thinking, movement, behavior and mood.

McKee said Mikita had Stage III CTE and Lewy Body Disease.

”What was interesting was he didn’t just have CTE, which we know is associated with contact sports,” she said, ”but we’re finding out that there are other neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Lewy Body Disease, which is a Parkinson’s sort of disease that spreads through your brain, believe it or not, that’s associated with contact sports.”

Mikita spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, beginning with his NHL debut in 1959 and running through his retirement after playing 17 games in the 1979-80 season. He is the franchise’s career leader for assists (926), points (1,467) and games played (1,394), and is second to Bobby Hull with 541 goals.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. He also was the first player to have his jersey retired by the Blackhawks in 1980.

Mikita’s family declined to speak with the media at the dinner. Mikita’s daughter, Jane, accepted the 2019 Courage Award on behalf of the family.

”While my dad’s professional hockey accomplishments were many, we are most proud of his legacy of giving back and caring for others,” Jane said during her speech.

Fanspeak: Bobby Hull voted greatest Blackhawk in franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Chicago Blackhawks

1. Bobby Hull — 1,074 votes

2. Stan Mikita — 528 votes

3. Patrick Kane — 320 votes

4. Jeremy Roenick — 225 votes

5. Other — 368 votes

He’s scored the most goals in Chicago Blackhawks history with 604 and he’s second to Stan Mikita in points and games played. Yes, Bobby Hull, “The Golden Jet”, was the icon in Chicago.

With the Blackhawks, he was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in 1960 and led them to the Stanley Cup in 1961. He also led the NHL in goals seven times before parting ways with Chicago rather acrimoniously to play for the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA. Check out what Hull told Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post in 2010 about how the older Bobby Hull would’ve advised the younger him.

“Um, I would have to say, ‘You’re backed in a corner, son. Go to it.’ That’s exactly what happened. [Chicago] backed me into a corner, they never offered me a contract while they were off floating around in their 110-foot ship in the Caribbean. They didn’t seem like my 15 years of blood, sweat and tears for them made any difference. They pissed me off, a few years before that, on a number of occasions.”

Despite the ugly parting, he’s a man forever etched into the memories of Blackhawks fans for what he did to electrify the city in the 60s and 70s.

Considering all the success the team has had in the past few years, you’d think Kane or Jonathan Toews would’ve earned a few more votes, but it looks like hardcore ‘Hawks fans did their part to recognize the all-time greats.

Let’s look at what career accomplishments Selanne might achieve in 2012-13

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As we previously reported, Selanne has decided to put off his retirement for at least one more season and sign a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

He’s currently the oldest active player in the NHL at 42, but he seems to be immune the aging process that mere mortals like us experience. Last season he had 26 goals and 66 points in 82 games and reached the 1,400 career points mark in the process. So what other accomplishments could he add to his Hall of Fame-worthy career?

Let’s take a look…

— If Selanne can stay relatively healthy and play in at least 59 games, then he’ll become either the 32nd, 33rd, or 34th member of the 1,400 games club. Jaromir Jagr will enter the season with a five game lead on him and Roman Hamrlik is just 21 contests away.

— Selanne currently ranks 19th with 1,406 career points. If he gets even 20 points next season, he would surpass Bryan Trottier and claim sole possession of 15th place on the All-Time list. After that, Stan Mikita currently holds 14th place with 1,467 points, so Selanne would need another season comparable to his 2011-12 campaign to beat him.

— Selanne is already the Ducks’ career leader in points, but with 63 more he’ll become the first Anaheim player to record 1,000 points while wearing their uniform.

— Selanne needs to find the back of the net just five times to tie Luc Robitaille, who currently ranks 10th on the All-Time goals list with 668. The wrinkle is that Jagr has 665 career goals, so it will be a race between the two aging superstars to see who can surpass Robitaille first.

Mario Lemieux is ninth with 690 goals, Steve Yzerman ranks eighth with 692, and Mark Messier has 694 goals. All three of those legends are within reach, although obviously Jagr or Selanne would need to have a great season to surpass any of them.

— Selanne also currently ranks fourth with 248 career power-play goals, which is just one shy of Phil Esposito and third place.

— Selanne isn’t nearly as high up in the assists charts, but he’s just seventh away from becoming the 42nd player to ever reach the 750 assists milestone. Joe Thornton became the 41st member of that club last season.

Video: Blackhawks reveal Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita statues

For newbie fans, the Chicago Blackhawks’ greatest duo might already be Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.* The truth is that those two players have a long way to go to eclipse the team’s legendary one-two punch of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita.

Former owner Bill Wirtz rubbed the two former players the wrong way during his time as owner, but the team rebuilt their ties with the two aging faces of its franchise once Rocky Wirtz took over. The icons have been invited back for various events, but Saturday night featured a fitting moment: the team revealed statues for both of them in a classy ceremony.

Check out video of the announcement below.

* – Oddly, no one’s really making an argument for Eric Daze and Alexei Zhamnov.

PHT’s Morning Skate: Jaromir Jagr is a maniacal workout machine

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Kevin Weekes explains what makes Jaromir Jagr as good as he is at age 39. Hint: He’s more than just a rink rat. (NHL.com)

Kings forward Trevor Lewis is trying to figure out a nickname for new guy Mike Richards. With Brad Richardson in town, it’s a good thing they didn’t also get Brad Richards this summer. Everyone can’t be “Richie”… Can they? (Mayors Manor)

Like it or not, Bill Simmons is becoming a Kings season ticket holder this year because he won’t have the Clippers to obsess over. (Grantland)

Jo Innes at Backhand Shelf examines what goes into treating a Taylor Fedun-like broken femur. Trust her, she’s a pro. (Backhand Shelf)

Blackhawks will unveil statues for both Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita on Saturday (Chicago Tribune)

Some Buffalo Sabres are getting skating training from Dawn Braid. Yes, she’s a figure skater. Now where’s D.B. Sweeney? (Sabres)

Hal Gill will play in his 1,000th career game against the team he won a Stanley Cup with in Pittsburgh. The S.S. Gill sails again. (NHL)

Finally, here’s Winnipeg first round pick Mark Scheifele scoring his first NHL goal. In before going back to juniors?