Former Blackhawks Hall of Fame defenseman Pierre Pilote dies at 85

Hockey: NHL Playoffs: Chicago Blackhawk Pierre Pilote (3) in action vs Detroit Red Wings. Chicago, IL 4/6/1966--4/13/1966 CREDIT: Herb Scharfman (Photo by Herb Scharfman /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X11568 F12 )

CHICAGO – Before their was Keith and Chelios, a generation of Blackhawks fans had their own defenseman to rally around in the 1950s and 1960s.

Pierre Pilote was the mainstay defending the net for the franchise from 1955-1968 and helping the franchise to their third Stanley Cup in that time. He is also just one of seven members of the Blackhawks to have their number retired by the franchise and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It’s his play that’s being remembered after his death at the age of 85 this weekend per an announcement from his family.

“We are saddened with the passing of our father, but our family will always remember the Blackhawks organization for providing us with so many special moments,” said the Pilote family in a statement released by the Blackhawks. “We are so proud of what our father accomplished in his professional career and thankful that his legacy will be preserved with the retirement of his #3 by the team.”

That came in 2008 when he was given the honor along with late defenseman Keith Magnuson, who also wore No. 3.

“The Chicago Blackhawks offer our sincere condolences to the family of Pierre Pilote as we mourn his passing,” said the team in a statement released on Sunday. “Pierre was one of the most decorated defenseman in NHL history and was a valuable member of the 1961 Stanley Cup championship team.

“He will be remembered for his toughness, leadership and reliability on the ice—as proven by his captaincy and streak of 376 consecutive games played. We will forever be grateful for his incredible contribution to the Blackhawks and the game of hockey.”