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Blackhawks center Stan Mikita
Grant Wahl
May 26, 1997
JANUARY 31, 1966
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May 26, 1997

Blackhawks Center Stan Mikita

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JANUARY 31, 1966

Three years ago at an amusement park outside Washington, D.C., a group of slack-jawed teenagers gathered around NHL Hall of Fame center Stan Mikita. They were brandishing pens, jostling for position to get autographs. "Do you guys remember me from the Chicago Blackhawks?" asked Mikita, who was surprised and not a little pleased by the recognition. After moments of silence one of the boys finally spoke up. "Who," he said, "are the Chicago Blackhawks?"

Mikita groans when telling the story. "I put in 22 years as a pro athlete," he says, "and they remembered me from a doughnut shop in a movie."

Such are the torments of Hollywood for Mikita, whose fictitious Aurora, Ill., doughnut shack was the hip hangout of Wayne and Garth in Wayne's World and its sequel. Although Mikita made only a cameo in the first film and wasn't in the second, his mug appeared throughout both movies on all sorts of kitschy artifacts, including a 12-foot-high statue of him in his hockey uniform. Indeed, Mikita has often seemed larger than life to Chicagoans. During his NHL career, from 1958-59 through 1979-80, all of which was spent with the Blackhawks, he won one Stanley Cup ('61), two Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player ('67 and '68) and scored 1,467 points (seventh on the alltime list, right behind Mario Lemieux). And while he often played in the shadow of teammate Bobby Hull—a fact referred to on the first of Mikita's three SI covers (above)—Mikita's number, 21, was the first Blackhawks jersey to be retired.

A five-handicap golfer, Mikita spent the first seven years of his retirement as a club pro at Kemper Lakes golf course in Long Grove, Ill., before going into business with former teammate Glen Skov as a plastics and corrugated-box salesman. But perhaps his most significant achievement has been the Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing-Impaired, a weeklong camp he was inspired to start in 1974 by a friend's deaf son, who wanted to learn the game. The camp led to the formation of the USA National Deaf Hockey Team, which two years ago won the gold medal at the World Winter Games for the Deaf in Rovaniemi, Finland. Next month the 24th annual camp will convene at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Ill., with 75 volunteers and a record 105 youngsters, ages five to 21, from across the U.S. "It's amazing," Mikita says. "Kids are falling all over the place one year, and the next year they're just scooting all over the ice. It's always a very rewarding thing to see."