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The Hanson Brothers are fictional characters in the 1977 movie Slap Shot. The characters are based on the Carlson brothers, who were actual hockey players. Two of them starred in the film.
The movie, which stars Paul Newman, was written by Nancy Dowd. The story was based in part upon the experiences of her brother, Ned Dowd (who appears in the film as notorious hockey player Ogie Ogelthorpe), when he played for the North American Hockey League club in Pennsylvania called the Johnstown Jets.
The Hanson Brothers provide several humorous moments in the film and are best remembered for:
- starting fights
- interrupting the coach in the locker room during pre-game speeches with overzealous shouting
- wearing extremely thick glasses
- playing with toy cars and trucks in their hotel room, although the brothers range in age from 18 to 20
In the film, The Hansons are brought in by the front office as part of an inexpensive deal, also as enforcers for the flagging Charlestown Chiefs during their 1976 (and final) season in the Federal league. They are in order of their numbers:
- Jack Hanson (portrayed by David Hanson) – #16 Left Wing, age 19
- Steve Hanson (portrayed by Steve Carlson) – #17 Center, age 20
- Jeff Hanson (portrayed by Jeff Carlson) – #18 Right Wing, age 18
While the film's 'Hanson Brothers' were based on the real Carlson Brothers, the character of "Killer Carlson" is based on Dave Hanson-whose real hockey nickname was "Killer" Hanson. Thus, Dave Hanson filled in for Jack Carlson as one of the fictional Hanson Brothers - while another actor played a character modeled after Dave Hanson. Jack Carlson, the man Dave "played" in the movie, was also very well known throughout his career as an enforcer, and did pick up the real hockey nickname "Killer" Carlson.
In the movie, the Hanson Brothers speak with a typical North Central American accent, owing to their hometowns, in areas where hockey is prevalent. The United States Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, Minnesota, only a few miles from Virginia, home of the Carlsons. The Iron League, from which the Hansons are supposedly bought, may be a reference to the Marquette Iron Rangers or the Iron Range, a hockey hotbed in Northern Michigan.
Along with their time on minor professional teams like those depicted in the film, all three of the actors playing the Hanson Brothers played in the major leagues. Steve Carlson played in 225 games, in both the NHL and the WHA. Dave Hanson played in 136 games in the NHL and WHA. Jeff Carlson played 7 games in the WHA. Like their characters, both Dave Hanson and Jeff Carlson were known for a willingness to "drop the gloves". Steve Carlson did have some fights in his professional career, but was known more as a finesse player. Dave Hanson's son, Christian Hanson has played in the Washington Capitals organization, Boston Bruins organization and was most recently (August 2013) signed to a two-way contract by the St Louis Blues.
Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and Dave Hanson continue to make personal appearances as the Hanson Brothers, typically at minor league hockey games as of 2007[update]. The brothers latest appeared at the first Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Alumni Game in Wilkes-Barre, PA on April 4, 2009. The brothers played in a charity game March 23, 2013 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada for the benefit of Autism Kingston and the International Hockey Hall of Fame.
In popular culture
- The Hanson Brother characters inspired Canadian rock / punk band Nomeansno to create an alter-ego band The Hanson Brothers, playing Ramones-style songs about girls, hockey and beer.
- The Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League have a trio of long-haired, horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing guys who do "ice maintenance" during the official time-outs at home games named The Mullet Brothers, who are patterned after the Hansons.
- It was mentioned in the 2005 documentary Forever Hardcore by Pro Wrestler Scott "Raven" Levy that the idea for the Stable known as The Dudley Brothers was inspired by the Hanson Brothers from Slapshot after he and Dean Malenko watched the movie one night in Florida.
- At the June 2011 NHL Awards, the Hanson Brothers appeared in a spoof sketch based on the popular television series Pawn Stars, in which they try to sell the Stanley Cup to proprietor Rick Harrison at his pawn shop.