Hansons dropping gloves at Coliseum
Any hockey fan worth their salt : at least over the age of, say, 30 : knows the Hanson Brothers helped bring the old-time hockey of Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper and Toe Blake back to the Charlestown Chiefs.
For a period anyway.
In the 1977 hockey movie “Slap Shot,” starring Paul Newman, which has plenty of connections to the Komets, that old-time hockey lasted all of one period before the Hansons gooned it up, just as they had earlier in the film.
The Hansons are known for putting foil on their hands to aid their punching. They cross-checked, undercut and sandwiched opponents, pulled the legs out from underneath a goaltender, tripped a linesman, brawled in the stands and got arrested, but also took time to play with their toy race cars.
The Hansons will be at Memorial Coliseum at 8 p.m. today for the Komets’ game against the Indy Fuel : in what could ultimately be one of the last chances hockey fans here have to see the touring act : and the Komets are wearing replica blue Chiefs jerseys that will be auctioned to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne and the Blue Bucket Brigade.
“They said they were expecting over 8,000 people and that’s pretty exciting for us,” said Steve Carlson, who played Steve Hanson in the movie. “No matter what arena we go into, it’s always a thrill to go into it. Hey, we love entertaining the fans and we love entertaining the people. Our fan base is from ankle-biters all the way up to grandmas, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The Hanson Brothers have visited countless venues, even in Germany and England, representing the sport “Slap Shot” helped make famous.
“One thing we really like is when we’d go to Canada and they’d ask us, ’What part of Canada are you from?” Carlson said. “We’d have to tell them, ‘We’re not; we’re Americans.’ Then came the: ‘Oh.’ ”
While they played goons in the movie and two sequels, they really were much more in real life.
Carlson, 63, was a skilled forward who played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings in 1979-80, one season after totaling 18 goals and 40 points for Edmonton of the World Hockey Association, playing alongside Wayne Gretzky. Carlson also coached Johnstown of the ECHL and Memphis of the Central Hockey League.
His brother, Jeff, 65, who played Jeff Hanson, played in Fort Wayne with the Komets in the International Hockey League in 1980-81. He netted three goals and scored eight points in 14 games and adding three goals and four points in 12 playoff games.
Their brother, Jack, was supposed to play the third Hanson but couldn’t because he was called to Edmonton of the WHA, so Dave Hanson, 64, who played 33 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars, filled the role.
It’s all a little confusing since the Hansons were based on the Carlson brothers and there’s a Hanson acting in a movie with a Dave “Killer” Carlson character. Simpler to explain is people’s love of the Hanson Brothers, who gooned it up better than Ogie Ogilthorpe.
“Now hang on a second. They say we put the foil on because of our fighting skills. But Jeff scored a goal (in the movie) once,” Steve Carlson said with a laugh.
The Hansons were slated Thursday night to be in the locker room of the Minnesota Wild, coached by former Komets coach and player Bruce Boudreau, who played with Steve Carlson in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where “Slap Shot” was filmed.
“That’s why we’re going up to Minnesota; they’re struggling right now,” Carlson said. “Boudreau was in the film and maybe he can give us a shot at the Minnesota Wild (lineup). Jeff has scored a goal, so maybe we can help them with their offense. Plus, the foil helps us out with the Sunday barbecues when we have a little baked potato with the extra foil.”
Another former Komets player, Connie Madigan, makes an appearance in the movie as Ross “Mad Dog” Madison. And Boudreau has claimed many times that Newman’s “Slap Shot” apartment was his.
“It looked like his because it was filthy. So it was probably his,” Carlson said. “There’s no doubt, Bruce wasn’t the tidiest or most well dressed. I think he’s got the same suit now he was wearing when he was playing in Fort Wayne.”
Age and health has made the Hanson Brothers trim down their act, which used to include getting onto the ice with youth players, but their brand is synonymous with the tough hockey being weeded out of the sport.
“They’re going with skill and speed and they’ve got the size now. Do I like it? Not really,” Carlson said. “When someone has the puck and they should be hit, it’s a contact sport. I’m even watching football games and you can’t even touch a quarterback no more.”
One might think playing a Hanson Brother when he was just coming up in the pro ranks might have hindered Carlson : typecast him : but he said it was the opposite.
“It helped me huge. Other teams thought I was tough. I invented turtling. In real life, when I had my brother Jeff and my brother Jack as my wingers, they’d go in the corners and I’d be in the deep slot. ‘Thank you,’ ” he said, chuckling.
Which brings us to the downside of being a Hanson Brother: it’s been nearly impossible to play recreational senior hockey because too many people want to go home and tell a story about how they fought a Hanson Brother.