A special night for special Blackhawk: Kevin Magnuson

  • Kevin Magnuson, the son of the late Keith Magnuson, poses with former Hawks captain Pierre Pilote on Tuesday. The Blackhawks will retire the No. 3 jersey of both players before tonight's game with Boston.

    Kevin Magnuson, the son of the late Keith Magnuson, poses with former Hawks captain Pierre Pilote on Tuesday. The Blackhawks will retire the No. 3 jersey of both players before tonight's game with Boston. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Published: 11/12/2008 12:02 AM

The resemblance is stunning.

The same shock of red hair, the same easy smile, and the same quiet determination in his eyes.

He is Kevin Magnuson, the 31-year-old son of the late Blackhawks defenseman Keith Magnuson.

Nearly five years after his father died in an automobile accident at 56, Kevin, along with his mother, Cindy, and sister Molly, will represent the family as his dad's No. 3 jersey is retired tonight in a ceremony at the United Center.

Like his dad, Kevin Magnuson won a national championship in college - Kevin at Michigan and Keith a pair at the University of Denver. After college, Kevin, who lives in Chicago, played professionally for a while in the ECHL and now is a practicing attorney.

On the eve of the big ceremony, Kevin sat down with the Daily Herald to talk about his dad.

Q. What do you think your dad would think of all this?

A. He would be beside himself. The amount of pride he had as a Chicago Blackhawk - he was so proud to be a Chicago Blackhawk, and it's just a great culmination of his career.

Q. How much do you keep up with the Hawks these days?

A. I'm an avid fan. I think I've missed maybe three games so far, and if I'm not there I'm watching it on TV or listening on the radio. It's in my blood. That was something my dad and I enjoyed; we would talk after every game. I'm a fan for life.

Q. How did you survive those lean years?

A. Myself and C.J. Koroll - Cliff' Koroll's son - ran the Blackhawks alumni box. It was amazing how there were very few ticket requests.

There would be a lot of nights where C.J. and I would be up there by ourselves. We would be the only ones high-fiving. We stuck it out; we knew that it would come back. Now it's so much fun to walk into that building and really be proud of the team that's on the ice.

Q. Your dad was a fighter. Do have a little bit of that in you?

A. I have a little bit of aggressiveness in me. I wasn't the fighter on the team, but everyone knew that I would. A lot of players sought me out just to test me. I was right along with my dad: I won some, I lost more than I won. But you showed up.

Q. What was it like to watch videos of your dad fighting?

A. It was awesome. In high school and definitely when I'd bring teammates back from college, they'd want to watch tapes of my dad. My dad would be there and he'd tell us the inside story. We just laughed, had a few beers.

Q. Was it tough to watch when he'd lose a fight?

A. I just like the fact that, here he is getting beat up by (Philadelphia's) Dave Schultz - the guy was an animal - that was tough.

But he'd come out and say, "Let's do it again," and that's Chicago in a nutshell - that fighting spirit. You get knocked down, you get back up and just keep going. It's eerie to say, but he was basically saying, "You're going to have to kill me before I'm going to say no."

Q. But then he'd come home-

A. He'd come and give you noogies and love you. He was an unbelievable dad.

Q. What's the ceremony going to mean to your mom?

A. It's going to be tough because she knew how much it would have meant to my dad. It's very cliché to say he'll be there, but he really is going to be there. I know he's going to take over for me when I have to say a few words.

Q. What does the Blackhawks organization mean to you and your family?

A. They've really given us every opportunity in our lives. Whether it was me playing hockey for a long time - I was introduced to the sport through my dad. The Wirtz family - the loyalty my dad showed them, they've shown back tenfold.

Q. When you're driving around and you think of your dad, what's the first thing you think of?

A. His phone calls. We talked every day. "How's your day going? What's going on?" I'd have questions about life decisions, and he'd say, "Here's how I'd handle it." That's a tough thing to replace.

My mom, she would always give it one perspective and he'd give it another, and then I'd balance the two, and usually it was the perfect answer.

Q. When that banner is raised, what do you want the fans to think of when they think of your dad?

A. The pride of being a Chicago Blackhawk and what it means to take that pride and carry yourself every day with it. And once your career is over, still be proud of being a Blackhawk and use that for the greater good of society. Giving back - he was really, really great at that.