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Study shows Blackhawks legend, Hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita had Stage 3 CTE

Chicago’s all-time leading scorer is the first Hockey Hall of Famer to test positive for CTE.

Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Five Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Blackhawks legend and Hockey Hall of Fame member Stan Mikita tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), researchers and his family announced Friday night in Chicago.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive blows to the head that is known to cause memory loss and violent moods. It can only be diagnosed posthumously.

Mikita is the 11th known former NHL player and first Hall of Famer to have tested positive for CTE, according to Rick Westhead of TSN.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of the BU CTE Center, VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, and chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System, announced the findings at the request of Mikita’s family during the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Chicago Honors dinner. McKee said Mikita had Stage III CTE.

Mikita, who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 1961, died in August 2018 at age 78. He was in poor health after his diagnosis in 2015 with Lewy body dementia — a progressive disease that causes problems with thinking, movement, behavior and mood.

“What was interesting was he didn’t just have CTE, which we know is associated with contact sports,” McKee said according to the Associated Press, “but we’re finding out that there are other neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Lewy Body Disease, which is a Parkinson’s sort of disease that spreads through your brain, believe it or not, that’s associated with contact sports.”

Mikita spent his entire NHL career with Chicago, starting in 1959. He’s the franchise’s career leader in points (1,467), assists (926) and games played (1,394), and his 561 goals are second to Bobby Hull’s 604. Mikita was also an eight-time All-Star and two-time Hart Trophy winner.

Mikita was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. He was also the first Chicago player to have his jersey number retired in 1980 and was immortalized with a bronze statue alongside Hull in 2011 outside of the United Center.