Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita dies at 78

CHICAGO - He's one of the icons of the franchise, a player that lives on for generations after he stopped playing.

The memories of Stan Mikita are being shared by the Blackhawks and the fans of the organization after his passing at the age of 78.

The team announced the death in the a news release on Tuesday along with a statement from the family.

"With great sorrow, the Mikita family announces that Stan passed away on Tuesday August 7, 2018 at the age of 78," was part of the release from the Mikita family. "He was surrounded by his loving family whom he fiercely loved. Details of planned services will be released when they become available. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time."

Mikita was with the Blackhawks for 22 years and is the franchise leader in points (1,467) and games played (1,394). A four-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL's leading scorer, the forward was named the Hart Trophy winner for league MVP in the 1966-1967 along with the 1967-1968 seasons. In those same years, Mikita was also named the Lady Byng Trophy winner for sportsmanlike conduct.

After his retirement in 1980, the Blackhawks retired his No. 21 in October of that year, and then was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. He served as an ambassador for the team starting in 2008.

In 2015, Mikita's family announced that he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, an illness that took away the memories of his prestigious playing career along with most of his life.

Yet those memories live on today in a number of tributes to the Hall of Famer following his passing.

"Stan Mikita will be always remembered as a champion, an innovator and a master of the game. He embodied the Chicago Blackhawks. His excellence is illustrated by the team records he still holds today. His passion for the game was proved by the longevity of his playing career," said Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough. "The impact he had on the franchise is proved by fact that Blackhawks fans still wear his jersey to the United Center. On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks organization and our fans, we express our deepest condolences to the Mikita family and all who mourn Stan's passing."

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz added:"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."