Injuries Plague The Last Decade Of His Career
While Mikita again scored 97 points in 1968-69, he finished fourth in the league in scoring behind Phil Esposito, Howe, and Hull. Mikita suffered a severe back injury in 1969 and had to wear a back brace for much of the rest of his career. A few years later, Mikita suffered a bad head injury and had a suspension helmet specially designed for him by an engineer. This led to his involvement in the helmet manufacturing business. Mikita correctly predicted that the NHL would someday make helmets mandatory, though it was only after a player, Bill Masterson, was killed in a game.
Though Mikita was slowed by his injuries, he remained a consistent scorer and team leader during a tumultuous time. A rival to the NHL, the World Hockey Association (WHA), formed in the early 1970s and paid huge salaries to lure such stars as Hull, Pat Stapleton, and Ralph Back-strom away. Though Mikita also received offers, he was not tempted to jump to the WHA because of his family and his belief that money was not everything. Mikita was dedicated to the concept of being a Blackhawk for life.