Magnuson, 56, dies in car accident

Updated: December 16, 2003, 2:56 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and coach Keith Magnuson will always be remembered as a fiery and emotional player.

Keith Magnuson
AP PhotoKeith Magnuson played for the Blackhawks from 1969-80.

Magnuson, 56, was killed Monday in an auto accident in suburban Toronto, the team said. He was riding in a car with former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rob Ramage, Blackhawks spokesman Jim DeMaria said.

"We're still investigating, but it looks like one car crossed over the center median," York Region Const. Steve Morrell told the Canadian Press.

An official at William Osler Health Center in Toronto said Ramage was headed for surgery late Monday but wouldn't confirm his condition.

Another woman from a different vehicle was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

The accident happened at about 5 p.m., in Vaughan, a suburb just north of Toronto.

Magnuson played for Chicago from 1969-80 and coached the team for 1½ seasons.

"He was hard-nosed. He was a tough guy," DeMaria said. "He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was a great player."

Magnuson was extremely aggressive, a player who fought frequently and didn't win very often.

To compensate for that, he took boxing lessons and would work himself into a pique before the start of each game. He became a team leader, who adopted coach Billy Reay's defensive mantra of "None Against." That meant that Magnuson would strive at all costs to keep the puck out of his own net.

Legends of, the Hockey Hall of Fame's Web site, quoted him as saying he'd stop the puck with his teeth if necessary.

Magnuson, a member of the Blackhawks' 75th anniversary all-star team selected in 2001, played for Chicago from 1969-80. He had 14 goals, 125 assists and 1,442 penalty minutes in 589 NHL games. In 68 playoff games, he had three goals, nine assists and 164 penalty minutes.

He coached the Blackhawks from 1980-82 and had a record of 49-57-26.

Magnuson continued to live in the Chicago area and remained visible with the team until his death, DeMaria said. "He was a member of the alumni association of the Blackhawks and of the NHL," DeMaria said. "He was always down at the United Center and he always wished the team well."

Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz issued a statement extending sympathies to Magnuson's family.

"Keith was an outstanding human being and we're all deeply saddened by this devastating loss," Wirtz said.

Ramage, 44, played in 1,044 games in the NHL from 1979-94, getting 139 goals with 425 assists. He captained the Maple Leafs from 1989-91.

He also played for the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis, Calgary, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Philadelphia.

Funeral arrangements for Magnuson were not immediately known.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press