The family of Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita says the Hockey Hall of Famer has been "undergoing treatment for suspected Lewy body dementia," according to NHL.com. The news comes after previous reports that the 74-year-old had been suffering from memory loss.
"The family of Stan Mikita truly appreciates the support he has received over the many years he has played, worked and lived in the Chicago area," the family said in a statement Friday. "They hope the fans will keep him in their thoughts and prayers and respect his privacy during this difficult time."
The NHL article says Lewy body dementia is a "type of progressive dementia. Symptoms include hallucinations and varied levels of alertness."
Mikita, currently an ambassador for the Blackhawks franchise, played 1,394 games over 22 seasons in Chicago. The first player in team history to have his number retired and jersey lifted into the rafters, he's often considered one of the greatest athletes our fine city has ever had.
Via Chris Kuc, the 'Hawks also released a statement:
"We are aware of the unfortunate health news regarding Blackhawks Ambassador and Hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita. We are thinking of Stan and his family at this difficult time, and wish him well. Stan’s family has asked for privacy, and we hope all will respect their wishes."
The news also hits me on a personal level as someone whose seen the devastating effects that dementia can have on someone. My grandfather developed a version of the disease in his 80s and eventually lost all memory or ability to recognize family members he had known for decades. We have no idea where Mikita is in his progression with the illness, but I hope nothing but the best for him and his family as he works through a truly difficult situation.