Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita dies at 78

CHICAGO (NBC CHICAGO) - Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita has died at 78, his family confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

"He was surrounded by his loving family whom he fiercely loved," according to a statement from his family. "Details of planned services will be released when they become available. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time.”

NBC Chicago reports that Mikita played his entire 22-year career with the Blackhawks and led the team to the 1961 Stanley Cup. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

“There are no words to describe our sadness over Stan's passing," Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. "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 is still the Blackhawks' all-time leader in points (1,467) and games played (1,394). He won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968, and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in 1967 and 1968.

Mikita, along with former Blackhawk teammate Bobby Hull, was one of the first hockey players to use a stick with a curved edge. Mikita and Hull led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 1961.

In 1980, Mikita's number 21 jersey was the first to be retired by the Blackhawks, and he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. A statue of Mikita, along with Hull, was unveiled outside of the United Center, the home of the Blackhawks, in October of 2011.

In 2017, the NHL named Mikita amongst the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all-time.

Mikita has suffered health issues since being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in January 2015.