LOOKING BACK: Pilote and Magnuson
Tonight at the United Center, the Blackhawks will retire #3 for two players who never played in the building.
Pierre Pilote, winner of three Norris Trophies and Hall of Famer, who captained the Hawks pretty much throughout the sixties, is a fine choice, and one that we at HOCKEENIGHT endorsed before the Hawks ever annouced it.
He was a tough little shit, maybe 5'9". He led a fine Hawks team, the leader on a team that included such greats as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Glenn Hall. All four have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and they were the lions of the end of the Original Six era.
This is a retirement that is far overdue, and one that will be welcome. Considering he will be paid tribute by 21,000 fans, well over half of which never had the opportunity of seeing him play, it's great to see the team embrace its history.
Also having a retirement is the late Keith Magnuson. As stated on the HOCKEENIGHT podcast, this is more of a tribute by and for the fans. Maggs was never a threat to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there was never a player who fought and bled, quite literally, for the Hawks like Magnuson did.
Magnuson was the guy who did whatever it took, without ever having the skill of other defensmen, like Pilote or his teammate, Pat Stapleton. He had to go out there each night and tangle with guys like Bill Barber, Dave Schultz, Nick Fotiu or Terry O'Reilly. He was the guy that didn't dazzle like Hull, wasn't a craftsman like Mikita, but was every bit as beloved as any Hawks' player in my (quite long, it's been pointed out) lifetime, with the exception of Mikita. In fact, someone like Adam Burish, who does the dirty work on the ice, is willing to drop the gloves and tangle with anyone, is pretty much our current version of Maggs.
Sadly, Magnuson died in an automobile accident before he got his night. Last year when the Hawks paid tribute to Hull and Mikita, his son Kevin was part of the ceremony, and he got a huge ovation due to the fact that he was Maggs' son, and he was a dead ringer for him.
So tonight, before the Hawks take on the red-hot Boston Bruins in one of the sexiest regular-season games the Hawks have had in years, be upstanding for two greats in Blackhawks history.
Pierre and Maggs, you earned this one.
And hopefully, after tonight, the Hawks will get to work on a similar night for Steve Larmer.