Former NHL star can’t even dress himself now

Former player Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks is introduced to the crowd during a Heritage Night to honor the 1961 Stanley Cup Championship team before a game against the New York Islanders in 2011. Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

Other than Bobby Hull, no player was more identified with the Chicago Blackhawks back in the day than Stan Mikita.

Those were the good days.

“His mind is completely gone,” Jill, Stan’s wife of 52 years, tells the Chicago Tribune today in a devastating story of Mikita’s dementia. “I don’t like to use that term but there’s no other way to describe it.”

His wife doesn’t know if it was years of getting hit in hockey, radiation from a bout with tongue cancer, or a brain aneurysm Mikita suffered in 1999. And it doesn’t matter to his family.

“If he does have CTE, who cares? It’s not going to change anything,” Jane Mikita says. “He played a sport and a game that he loved and that provided us as a family with a wonderful upbringing. Hockey was good to Stan and Stan was good to hockey. There is no finger to be pointed. He knew what he was doing lacing up those skates every time he got on the ice.”

Mikita was one of the first NHL players to wear a helmet.

The Mikitas wanted their story told because, “people should know it’s OK to ask us about it,” Jane says. “It’s not like it’s some big taboo subject. 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.”

At the same time, seeing Stan in his current state is the most difficult thing they could have imagined.

“We’ve been mourning him so when he actually goes, which could be six months or it could be 10 years, we’re more ready,” Jane says. “I’m not going to lie to you, I pray every day that he goes because this is no quality of life. There is no dignity. And I don’t say that lightly. Knowing my dad, he never would have wanted this.”

“The Stan Mikita we knew is gone,” his wife says. “Completely gone.”