Pierre Pilote, a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman who won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks, died Saturday in a hospital in Barrie, Ontario, after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 85.
Pilote did not make his NHL debut until he was 24 years old, first appearing for the Blackhawks in the 1955-56 season. He became a fixture on the Hawks’ blue line for the rest of that decade and most of the 1960s, playing in 820 games for Chicago.
Pilote won the Norris Trophy in three consecutive seasons from 1963-1965 as the NHL’s best defenseman, and was a crucial part of the Hawks’ 1961 Stanley Cup victory before being named the team’s captain in the following season. He famously paired with Elmer Vasko for much of his time in Chicago, forming one of the top defensive pairings in the league at that time.
"The Chicago Blackhawks offer our sincere condolences to the family of Pierre Pilote as we mourn his passing,” the team said in a statement. “Pierre was one of the most decorated defenseman in NHL history and was a valuable member of the 1961 Stanley Cup championship team. He will be remembered for his toughness, leadership and reliability on the ice, as proven by his captaincy and streak of 376 consecutive games played. We will forever be grateful for his incredible contribution to the Blackhawks and the game of hockey."
After his career, the eight-time All-Star was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. Chicago retired Pilote’s No. 3 on November 12, 2008, during a jointed ceremony with Keith Magnuson, who wore the same number during his Chicago career.
Here's an old Sun-Times photo of Bobby Hull, Reg Fleming and Pierre Pilote (right) checking out the Stanley Cup after winning it in 1961. pic.twitter.com/w8duYwLzIR— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 10, 2017
The Pilote family released the following statement from the Hawks:
"We are saddened with the passing of our father, but our family will always remember the Blackhawks organization for providing us with so many special moments. We are so proud of what our father accomplished in his professional career and thankful that his legacy will be preserved with the retirement of his No. 3 by the team."