It’s one of the beautifully unique aspects of hockey. The toughest players on the ice are inevitably the nicest ones off it. Nobody was tougher than Keith Magnuson during his 10 years patrolling the blue line for the Blackhawks at the Stadium. Look the wrong way at one of his teammates and you would have to answer to No. 3. That toughness stayed on the ice, however. Off the ice, out of uniform, there was nobody nicer.
John Ferguson, Dave Schultz, Terry O’Reilly, the Plager brothers . . . there were plenty of bad dudes in the NHL during Keith Magnuson’s playing days. He fought them all and lost to most of them–Carol Vadnais being a notable exception. But it wasn’t his fighting ability that distinguished Keith Magnuson, it was his fighting spirit. As much as the great Bobby Hull or Stan Mikita, he came to symbolize a proud, talented Blackhawks team that was great fun to watch and follow. Modest talent, im-measurable desire.
Keith Magnuson was a classic NHL defenseman, with 14 goals and more than 1,400 penalty minutes during his many years with the Hawks. To hockey fans the world over, he gained a reputation as a fiery redhead and a hard-nosed player. To Chicagoans who have come to know and love him over the past 30 years, he was an open and friendly man, always quick with a smile and an autograph. He was a shrewd and successful businessman, a tough competitor on the links and a loving family man.
I was fortunate enough to become friends with this amazing man!
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