Keith Magnuson was one of the most popular and talented hockey players of all time at the University of Denver. He enrolled at the University of Denver in 1965 as a freshman from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This was in the days when freshman were not eligible to play at the varsity level. However, as a sophomore during the 1966-67 season, Magnuson began to display the skill and drive that would eventually make him one of the finest defensemen in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. After his sophomore season, he was voted to the Denver Post WCHA All-Star Team and tied for “Sophomore of the Year” honors.
In 1967 and 1968, the University of Denver press guides began describing him in this fashion: “Magnuson has the potential to add his name to those of Miller, Konik, Zemrau, Howe, Munro and Smith on the list of all-time great Pioneer defensemen. He could become one of the best blueliners in the University of Denver hockey history. One of the most feared checkers in the league, Magnuson came to play. His professional manner on the ice made him a favorite with Pioneer fans.”
During his junior and senior seasons, 1967-68 and 1968-69, the Pioneers captured back-to-back NCAA national championships. In the 1969 national tournament, Magnuson was chosen Most Valuable Player, following a 4-3 title game win over Cornell. Magnuson was an All-American selection in both 1968 and 1969, and was First Team All-WCHA both seasons as well.
“Maggy” was the perfect player for head coach Murray Armstrong, a fellow member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, in those two championship seasons. It was Magnuson’s own drive, determination and work ethic that fueled the other members of those teams to greatness.
Following his outstanding college career at the University of Denver, Magnuson went on to play and star for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks for 11 seasons. In the 1970-71 season, he set an NHL record for the most penalty minutes in a single season, a mark that has since been broken. Magnuson was selected to play in 2 NHL All-Star games and when his playing days were over, he coached the Blackhawks for 2 seasons.
After hockey, Magnuson became the Chain Sales Manager for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Chicago. He also participated in numerous charity organizations including the Chicago Park District Special Olympics, Stan Mikita’s Hockey School for the Deaf, March of Dimes and the Chicago Heart Association.
A versatile individual, Magnuson authored a book, “None Against” on the Blackhawks in 1972, and has received numerous awards including: 1971–City of Hope: Sports Man of the Year, 1978—Ed Kelly-Giant Award, and 1986 Chicago Junior Citizens Athlete of the Year, just to name a few. In 1990, he was named into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
Magnuson passed away in 2003.
One of the most feared checkers in the league, Magnuson came to play. His professional manner on the ice made him a favorite with Pioneer fans.