No easy way out for Ramage

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Just a parking lot away from a place where the Maple Leafs used to hold training camp, jury selection begins this morning in the case against former team captain Rob Ramage.

It begins in a Newmarket court room three years and nine months after an accident on Rutherford Road in Vaughan ended one life and inexorably altered so many more.

Ramage and former Chicago Blackhawks defenceman and coach Keith Magnuson drove together from the funeral of former National Hockey League player Keith McCreary. Both had flown in from different cities in the United States in order to attend.

A popular figure, McCreary had headed the NHL Alumni Association and his funeral widely was attended by well-known hockey names, including former Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn.

On that day in December 2003, police allege that Ramage was driving a rented Chrysler Intrepid that apparently crossed the lanes of the roadway and collided almost head on with an SUV travelling in the opposite direction.

Magnuson, in the passenger's seat, didn't survive the crash. He would have turned 60 this year.

Ramage, 48, the apparent driver, stands charged of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.

The driver of the SUV escaped with what police called minor injuries.

A publication ban prevents the reporting of details of the case from the preliminary hearing more than two years ago.

Some thought this case never would go to trial. Some thought the Ramage camp, led by famed attorney Brian Greenspan, would find a way to make it go away. Some thought because it involved a well-known hockey player, with a well-known lawyer, in a relatively small town, that people would just look the other way.

Some even thought, because of the series of delays and more delays that prevented this case from going to trial, that it eventually would be thrown out of court.

But the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.

It is expected that jury selection will take two days. A spokesman for the Attorney General's office indicated the trial would last upwards of two weeks.

If found guilty, Ramage, considered to be a good, solid guy on every team he played on, is almost certain to do some jail time.

Outwardly, the Magnuson family has maintained it holds no bitterness toward Ramage. In fact, some insist the families are quite friendly.

But three telephone calls by Sun Media to Keith Magnuson's son, Kevin, to talk about his feelings regarding the case, went unreturned by Sun Media. Numerous calls to Magnuson's widow, Cindy Magnuson, over the years also have gone unreturned.

Ramage has worked in a St. Louis brokerage house since his hockey playing days came to an end and has coached his kids in minor hockey and carried this around with him for almost four years.

Almost four years of internal punishment, just no external punishment yet. Now, the law will speak. But no matter what the outcome, there can be no justice for anyone intimately involved. One dad is gone, another is scarred forever.


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