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Hockey: Hanson’s father starred in “Slap Shot”

Dan Murphy | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Any hockey player worth his weight in tin foil remembers the first time he watched George Roy Hill’s “Slapshot.” For Irish center Christian Hanson, the moment was a little bit more significant than most.

“I was about 11 [years old] on a road trip with one of my amateur teams when one of the dads popped it in,” Hanson said. “I was flabbergasted to see my dad like that – he is normally such a quiet guy around the house.”

Hanson’s father, Dave, is most famous for playing the feisty and outspoken Jack Hanson in the film. Jack and his two misfit brothers – Steve and Jeff – come to the struggling Charleston Chiefs and turn the team around using their legendary unorthodox methods.

The character is based on the elder Hanson’s professional career, which included time with the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota North Stars and the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints. In his 10 years in the pros, Dave Hanson spent nearly as much time in the penalty box as on the ice. He collected over 2,000 penalty minutes in his career.

“He actually had bonuses in his contract where if he led the team with penalty minutes he would get more money,” Christian Hanson said.

The younger Hanson, who plays more of a balanced role for the Irish, has only racked up 18 penalty minutes so far this season. Although he may not exactly be a chip off the old block, Hanson did learn some irreplaceable lessons from his childhood spent in hockey locker rooms.

“I think I picked up the love of the game from always being around it,” the younger Hanson said.

After his fighting days were over, Dave Hanson became the general manager of the AHL’s Albany River Rats, a position he held throughout Christian’s upbringing.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore was raised on stories of his dad’s career – like the time he fought Bobby Hull, arguably the greatest left winger to ever lace up skates. While exchanging blows, the older Hanson got a hold of Hull’s helmet and tore it off – taking his toupee with it.

“He threw it in the stands and the next year he got death threats from the fans in Winnipeg,” Hanson, Jr. said.

Although he respects his father’s style of play, Christian considers himself a two-way player – responsible for shutting down opponents and burying a few goals of his own. The sophomore had one goal and two assists in his rookie campaign and netted five more in the first half of this season.

He was sidelined for over a month in 2007 by mononucleosis. He missed eight games with the infection and returned to the Irish lineup last weekend for the CCHA-clinching win over Alaska. Prior to the trip to Fairbanks, the last game the younger Hanson skated in was Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over Lake Superior State Jan. 13.

“It felt great to finally be back in the lineup,” he said. “To be able to help the team out again felt great.”

Christian Hanson and his linemates wasted no time getting back in swing of things. The trio put one past Nanook goaltender Wylie Rogers on their very first shift. The goal was eventually disallowed, but Hanson had his legs back under him.

His return was a welcome sight for head coach Jeff Jackson and the rest of the Notre Dame team. Just as the fictional Hanson brothers’ arrival lifted the Chiefs to the top of their sport, the Irish hope the return of their own Hanson will help them keep their nine-game unbeaten streak alive against Ferris State in the last two games of the season this weekend.