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Pat Stapleton, former Blackhawks captain, dies at 79

Stapleton was a blueline anchor for Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s.

Chicago Blackhawks v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Pat Stapleton, who served as the Blackhawks captain for the 1969-70 season, died Wednesday due to complications from a stroke. He was 79.

“The Chicago Blackhawks organization would like to express their deepest sympathy to the family, friends and former teammates of Pat Stapleton,” the Blackhawks said Thursday in a statement. ”As a former team captain and valued member of the Blackhawks Alumni Association, Stapleton’s contributions to the organization will forever be remembered by the entire Blackhawks community.”

Stapleton, a defenseman, scored 327 points (41 goals, 286 assists) in 545 regular-season games and 49 points (10 goals, 39 assists) in 65 playoff contests from 1965-73 with the Blackhawks. Nicknamed “Whitney” for his blond hair, Stapleton was a blueline anchor for the Blackhawks and helped them make the Stanley Cup Final in 1971 and 1973 before falling to the Canadiens each time.

Before his time with Chicago, Stapleton played two seasons with the Bruins. He had 337 points (43 goals, 294 assists) in 635 career games. His best season came with Chicago in 1968-69, when he was the first defenseman in League history to have 50 assists in a single season.

Stapleton was a three-time second-team NHL All-Star and finished inside the top four for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded annually to the League’s best defenseman, three times with the Blackhawks. His son, Mike, also played parts of five seasons for Chicago from 1986-1992.

Pat Stapleton is survived by his wife, Jackie; sons, Tom, Mike and Chris; daughter, Susan; and 13 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughters, Mary and Maureen.