Hall of Fame center Stan Mikita announced Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer.
Mikita, who tallied 541 goals and 926 assists in a career that spanned 21 seasons, was given an "excellent" prognosis after his doctors discovered "an early base of tongue cancer" according to a press release sent out by the Chicago Blackhawks. Doctors expect to treat Mikita using external beam radiation therapy.
Over the course of his career -- all of which was spent with Chicago -- Mikita won consecutive Hart Trophies in 1967 and 1968, four Art Ross Trophies in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968, and he was a member of Chicago's last Stanley Cup championship team in 1961 before the Blackhawks snapped their 49-year Cup drought last season. At the time of his retirement, his 1,467 points were the third most in NHL history.
A participant in nine NHL All-Star Games, Mikita's number 21 was retired by Chicago in 1980.
In recent years, Mikita has been a widely visible figure in Chicago while officially serving as a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks organization.
Mikita celebrated his 71st birthday this past Friday.