The Columbus Blue Jackets mourn the loss of our friend, usher Tim Magnuson who lost his battle with ALS on Tuesday, Sept. 26. If you wish to make a contribution in Tim's memory, the family has requested that donations be made to the ALS Association by clicking here.
As an elevator usher at Nationwide Arena, Tim Magnuson is used to, as he jokes, "life's ups and downs." For 15 years, Magnuson transported arena visitors where they needed to go. But when an ALS diagnosis in December took Magnuson away from the job he loved, the Blue Jackets worked to provide boosts in his days by keeping him around the game he adores.
"Coach Torts, along with his staff, has made me feel like part of the team," Magnuson said. "Where else do you have professional coaches who care about their team and staff on a deep, personal level. Everyone associated with the Blue Jackets has shown compassion beyond measure."
If you've ridden an elevator at Nationwide Arena you've likely met Magnuson. The life-long hockey fan never wasted an opportunity to get to know his passengers, even if they were with him for just a short amount of time. Interacting with everyone from guests, to team bus drivers, scouts and media, was his favorite part of the job. He always had a smile and an outlook on the night's game at the ready.
When Magnuson's illness robbed him of the opportunity to be around hockey through his work, the Jackets responded. Magnuson made it to games through the balance of the regular season, and the team invited him to visit with them in the locker room and read a game-day lineup marking Magnuson's most precious memory this year.
"You can see how he interacts," head coach John Tortorella said. "He has nicknames for the players. He and his family, they are involved with us here. They've been in the room after games. It's happened so quickly, where a turn has gone for him, we have kind of married one another in just being together."
"It's hard to see a guy care so much about the team, and just have so many things going on. We love the guy and we're just happy he's with us."
And when the Jackets made the post-season, Tim's role as part of the club was not forgotten.
Assistant general manager Bill Zito suggested a reference to Magnuson on a coin handed out to members of the team. On one side of the coin, a Blue Jackets logo is surrounded by the words HEART, CHARACTER, ATTITUDE, PASSION, MANNERS, LOYALTY, RESPECT and TEAMMATE. In that last word, the "T" and the "M" are highlighted in Magnuson's honor.
Captain Nick Foligno suggested adding the 'TM' initials to the sleeve of every Jackets' warmup shirt.
"He's part of our team," Foligno said. "He's one of our teammates, he's one of our brothers. What he's battling right now puts into perspective everything we're going through and we wish him luck and we want to be a little bit of inspiration for him just like he's been for us."
And therein lies the ultimate gift. While the Jackets sought to encourage a person they consider one of their own, Magnuson never stopped doing what he'd always done: lifting up those around him.
"He's unbelievable," Brandon Dubinsky said. "He means so much to this team…(he) lets us realize how lucky and blessed we are to be in this position to go out there and play hockey for a living. He comes in and he gives us pump up speeches and rallies the troops. It's been an honor to be around him."
While this Jackets season has ended, Magnuson's battle continues. As he deals with ALS, what keeps him going is the support he receives from friends and family, including those in the Jackets organization, one he calls "the classiest."
"Words can't express what the entire Blue Jackets organization means to me," Magnuson said. However, 'family' would probably be the most fitting. Family Is most important, and they've all shown this to be true. I can't thank them enough."