Public visitation for former Blackhawk Stan Mikita held at United Center

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fans of Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita stood in line for hours on Sunday to pay their respects at a public visitation held at the United Center in Chicago.

Mikita - considered one of the greatest players in NHL history -- passed away Tuesday at the age of 78. His career with the Blackhawks lasted from 1958 to 1980, including a Stanley Cup win in 1961.

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In the atrium on Sunday, a No. 21 jersey hung over his casket as hundreds of fans paid their respects and consoled the family.

"I used to play hockey, I used to watch Mikita, I used to lace my skates like he did, everything," said fan Lou Gallo, a decades-long fan who wore his No. 21 jersey from 1972.

For a time after his retirement, Mikita acted as an ambassador for the Blackhawks.

In 2015, Mikita was diagnosed with suspected dementia.

The team dedicated a statue in his honor at the United Center in 2011. Fans have left flowers, took photos and held a moment of silence in his memory at the statue.

In lieu of flowers, the Mikita family asked that donations be made to organizations including the Illinois chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
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