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Mikita feeling good despite battle against cancer

by Brian Hedger /
CHICAGO -- He might be a few pounds shy of where he tipped the scales a couple of months ago, but Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita still has his sharp wit and spry step during a battle against Stage 1 oral cancer.

The Hall of Fame center spoke with reporters on Monday at the Blackhawks Alumni Annual Golf Outing at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., and said he's feeling pretty good despite dropping some pounds.

"I lost some weight and the doctors were not concerned, but my wife was," said Mikita, whose tongue cancer was revealed just days after his 71st birthday in May. "She gets me up at 3 o'clock in the morning (and says), 'Ya gotta eat!' Then I get up at three in the morning and finally eat about five or six. She's like 'Did you eat? It's still there…' like I was a little kid. But she is the greatest person in the world to put up with what she has in these past four months."

Mikita, a Blackhawks ambassador, hasn't been told that he's cancer free -- but he has a doctor's appointment coming up that he's eagerly anticipating.

"I will know in about 10 days how my recovery is, when I go see the doctor," Mikita said. "I'm looking for very favorable comments from him. The treatments went well. It wasn't really bad for me. It's been coming along real well."

Mikita, who played 22 seasons in the NHL, all with Chicago, also knows how his unfinished bronze statue is coming along -- but that's a highly-guarded secret.

Mikita and fellow Blackhawks ambassador and Hall of Famer Bobby Hull both will have their bronze likenesses placed somewhere at the United Center on a yet-to-be decided date this coming season. Mikita and Hull have been sworn to secrecy about the designs, which are being done by Rotblatt/Amrany Fine Art Studio.

"I can't tell you anything," Mikita said, zipping his lip with his finger. "I am silent. I cannot say anything. I have been thinking about it. I have my thoughts and I think it's a wonderful thing what they're doing for Bobby and I, and I'm looking forward to it. I heard I'm a little taller there than I am here."

Hull and Mikita have been official team ambassadors since 2008, a job that entails meeting with fans and representing the tradition of the Hawks, an Original Six organization. Mikita originally requested that fans not inundate he and his family with well wishes during his cancer battle, but his role as ambassador has made it nearly impossible to miss the concern Hawks fans have shown.

"The best part is, (they ask) 'Are you on skates yet?'" Mikita said, smiling. "I say, 'No, I don't think so. I think that age has passed me.' But it has been great, the response from all the people and I thank them for not bothering us, when they (probably) should have."
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