Reggie Dunlop: What are you guys doing?
Steve Hanson: Puttin' on the foil!
Jeff Hanson: Every game!
Jack Hanson: Yeah, you want some?
– Slap Shot, 1977
COLOGNE – Go up to Team USA’s Christian Hanson and ask him about the foil, and chances are he’ll flash a smile and hit you back with a oneliner about the Hanson Brothers. Because, to him, they’re not just Hanson Brothers from a 1970s movie. To him, they’re actually Uncles Hanson.
Christian’s father, Dave, is one of the acting hockey player who played the Hansons in the 1977 hockey classic Slap Shot. He was also an accomplished hockey player in his own right, playing 103 games in the World Hockey Association, and 33 games in the NHL, with the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota North Stars.
“I hear about it every day. It’s something my Dad loves and I love. We can talk about it all day long,” Christian Hanson says.
But even if Dave Hanson had played 330 games in the NHL, he’d still be more famous for his role as a childish, hockey-loving goon. Wherever a hockey game is played, the Hansons come up, if nothing else, they’re quoted. “Old-time hockey! Eddie Shore! Yeah!” But, chances are that at least one group of fans in the stands shows up wearing Johnstown Chiefs sweaters.
Cologne was no exception.
“I saw the guys wearing Chiefs sweaters, and I love it. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. And it’s great that people, hockey fans around the world embrace it. I do the same thing,” says Christian who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent in 2009, after he graduated from Notre Dame University.
He played five NHL games last season and was close to getting a roster spot in the fall, but spent most of the season with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. He was called up to the NHL parent club in 2010 when the Leafs cleaned house and traded some of their veteran forwards away to make way for their younger players.
Hanson finished his 2009-10 NHL season with the Leafs with two goals - both in his last game of the season - and seven points in 33 games.
At the World Championship, Hanson recorded one assist with Team USA that finished its tournament in the relegation round with a 3-2 shootout win over Italy. Not exactly what Hanson and his band of brothers had in mind flying over to Germany.
“It wasn’t where we wanted to be, but sometimes cards don’t fall the way you want and you just have to play with what you’ve got. After the preliminary round losses we just had to wipe the slate clean, it was do or die and we had to finish in the top two,” Hanson says.
But, it wasn’t all bad.
Now Hanson knows he has the skills to play in the international level.
“It was my first international experience, I can learn from this. The big ice was different and adjusting to that was something new,” he says.