Hall of Famer Pierre Pilote, who won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961, died Saturday at the age of 85, the team announced.
"The Chicago Blackhawks offer our sincere condolences to the family of Pierre Pilote as we mourn his passing," the team said in a statement. "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."
Pilote played for the Blackhawks from 1955 to 1968 before playing his final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1968-69. He was an eight-time All-Star and was a three-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defender. He scored 498 points (80 goals, 418 assists) in his career.
"A consistent, durable, dependable defender who enjoyed the offensive aspects of the position," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Mainstay of the Blackhawks' 1961 Stanley Cup champion, Pierre also was a man of humor and great dignity and a proud member of the Hockey Hall of Fame."
The Pilote family says in a statement released by the team that it's proud of what he "accomplished in his professional career and thankful that his legacy will be preserved with the retirement of his #3 by the team."
The 1960-61 Blackhawks team had five Hall of Famers: forwards Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, defensemen Al Arbour and Pilote, and goalie Glenn Hall. The Cup win was the franchise's first since 1938. After 1961, Chicago wouldn't win another until 2010, behind Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The Blackhawks retired the No. 3 in honor of Pilote and Keith Magnuson in November 2008.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.