Blackhawks to honor Hall of Famer Stan Mikita at home opener

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Fans sign a banner at the memorial service for Chicago Blackhawk Stan Mikita at the United Center in Chicago, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018. Mikita, who helped lead the Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup title while becoming one of the franchise’s most revered figures, died Tuesday. He was 78. | James Foster/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

The Blackhawks always have shown respect for Hall of Famer Stan Mikita. In 1980, they retired his No. 21, which hangs in the United Center rafters. The Hawks also put up a statue of Mikita alongside fellow Hawks legend Bobby Hull’s outside the United Center in 2011.

This upcoming season, the Hawks are planning to do even more to honor Mikita, who died last month at 78.

The Hawks announced Wednesday that they’ll wear a patch with Mikita’s No. 21 on their home and road sweaters this season. In addition, his number will remain painted on the United Center ice behind each goal.

The team also is planning a pregame ceremony at its home opener Oct. 7 against the Maple Leafs that will look back at Mikita’s life and illustrious 22-year career.

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Mikita, the franchise’s all-time leader in points (1,467) and games (1,394), was known for his grace on and off the ice. He led the Hawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup. Mikita also was a four-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer and a two-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

After his career ended, the Hawks named Mikita a team ambassador in 2008.

Mikita died Aug. 7 after a four-year battle with Lewy body dementia, a disease that strips victims of their memories and eventually makes everyday tasks difficult.

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