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Keith Magnuson; player, coach was Blackhawks heart and soul

CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and coach Keith Magnuson died Monday in an auto accident in suburban Toronto. He was 56.


Mr. Magnuson was riding in a car with former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rob Ramage after the two had attended a funeral for former NHL player Keith McCreary. Ramage, who dislocated his hip in the accident, was charged yesterday with impaired driving causing death.

Mr. Magnuson played for Chicago from 1969-80 and coached the team for 1 1/2 seasons. He 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 epitomized what heart and soul was all about," former Hawk and current ESPN analyst Darren Pang told the Chicago Tribune. "He gave every thing he had to the good of the team."

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

Yet as fierce as Mr. Magnuson was on the ice, he was as friendly off, teammates said. "It was always, `What can I do for you, how can I help you?' " Hawks assistant coach Denis Savard told the Tribune. "He was always positive, always happy. There's not too many human beings made that way."

Mr. Magnuson, a member of the Blackhawks' 75th anniversary all-star team selected in 2001, was also known for his charity work. Before leaving for Toronto Sunday, Mr. Magnuson took part in a charity event to raise money for an ice rink in Zion. "He was just marvelous," said Bob Neal, a friend who organized the event. "He just loved those kids. I told him he missed his calling, he should have been working with kids every day."

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

He leaves his wife, Cindy; a son, Kevin; and a daughter, Molly.

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