NHL Hall of Famer Stan Mikita suffered from CTE, study shows

Sporting News

Hockey Hall of Famer and Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita suffered from the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a leading doctor in the study of CTE said Friday.

Mikita, who played 22 seasons in the NHL, all with the Blackhawks, had been in declining health when he died at age 78 last year. His family donated his brain to the Boston University CTE Center. The postmortem study revealed Mikita had Stage 3 CTE, one stage below the disease’s severest form. CTE, caused by repeated contact to the head, can be diagnosed only postmortem.

Dr. Ann McKee, the center’s director, announced the findings during the Concussion Legacy Foundation's Chicago Honors Dinner on Friday at the request of the Mikita family, The Associated Press reported.

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“Stan Mikita was diagnosed with two neurodegenerative diseases that our research has shown are associated with a long career in contact sports such as ice hockey: CTE and Lewy body disease,” said McKee, according to a release (per the Chicago Tribune).

Mikita is the eighth former NHL player diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, according to the release, per the Tribune. The others: Derek Boogaard, Todd Ewen, Reggie Fleming, Rick Martin, Jeff Parker, Bob Probert and Larry Zeidel.

“We hope Stan Mikita’s pledge and CTE diagnosis will inspire greater participation in research from the hockey community,” said Dr. Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “Without greater participation from the hockey community, we have little hope for treating or preventing CTE within our lifetime.”

The announcement of the study’s findings coincided with the foundation's recognizing Mikita and his family with its 2019 Courage Award for their “contributions to CTE research and endless commitment to serving the community,” the Tribune reported.

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