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25 IN 25: No. 3 for Eternity

On Nov. 12, 2008, the Blackhawks dually retired the No. 3 sweater in honor of Pierre Pilote and the late Keith Magnuson

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

To celebrate 25 years of Blackhawks hockey at the United Center, Blackhawks.com looks back on the top 25 moments with '25 in 25'

What do you do when two of the most significant players in your history wore the same number at different times? You do what the Blackhawks did. You retire their jersey at the same time.

So, on November 12, 2008, their No. 3 sweaters were raised to the roof of the United Center, celebrating the careers of Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson.

Pilote was an integral part of the Blackhawks' 1961 Stanley Cup victory, recording three goals and 12 assists in 12 playoff games. Those are imposing numbers for a defenseman, but not unusual for Pilote, a sprightly individual with a gift for moving the puck. Somewhat of an outlier during his era, Pilote was often called the "Bobby Orr of the National Hockey League before Bobby Orr."

But Pilote was supremely effective at either end. He earned consecutive Norris Trophies (1963, 1964, 1965) and was runner-up three other years while patrolling the blue line with creativity and an edge, when necessary. A Blackhawks' captain from 1961 through 1968, and a five-time First Team NHL All-Star, Pilote was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

Video: 25 in 25: Retiring No. 3

Not surprisingly, Pilote graciously shared this emotional occasion with family, friends and fans of the late Magnuson, who died in 2003 from a tragic automobile accident. "Maggie" joined the Blackhawks fresh out of Denver University in 1969, and immediately energized a team that went from last place the year before a he arrived to first place in his rookie season. Maggie endeared himself with his unbridled enthusiasm that occasionally required dropping the gloves. He also fashioned a plus-170 rating through 1980.

Magnuson was the Blackhawks' spirit chairman in uniform, and a peerless ambassador for the franchise and the sport. He was a captain in Chicago, then an assistant and head coach, then a co-founder of the Blackhawk Alumni Association, a model organization in professional sports.

Magnuson's wife Cynthia, plus their children Kevin - who spoke eloquently - and Molly were among the gathering at center ice. As were several former Blackhawks, including Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and Denis Savard, all of whose jerseys had previously been retired.

Pilote and Magnuson were different players, but they both possessed style and passion. As for that evening's game, the Boston Bruins won, 2-1, in a shootout. The Blackhawks' only goal in regulation was scored by Jonathan Toews, assisted by Patrick Kane. Time marches on.

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