Slap Shot - The Cult Classic - Spawns Anew 8-21

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2nd in the 3 part series of my discussion with Steve Carlson. Next up will be his feelings on the game and how he would change the NHL today. ( You can guess which was #1 that made me cringe.)
Also coming up an indepth look at CJ Papa, the hardest working man in Sports broadcasting. Happy Friday people!

It was over 30 years ago when Slap Shot was first released to mixed reviews. The language, the raw imagery and the sports violence made many viewers wince. But those who had any knowledge of what hockey was really like in those days in the minor leagues knew it wasn’t far off the mark. Besides, it had Paul Newman.

Based on information from the scriptwriter’s brother and his playing days struggling in the minors, this “little film” starring a big actor has endured the test of time. The clothes may be hard to look at, but the comedy endures, and so do the loveable goons called The Hanson Brothers.

When they couldn’t find actors who could skate well enough to make the film work, the native Minnesota Carlson Brothers were given the opportunity to play the roles. As fate would have it, Jeff Carlson was called up to the Detroit Red Wings and couldn’t take the role leaving Steve and Jack a man short for their line. So Dave Hanson, who was supposed to play the role of Killer Carlson, was adopted as the third brother and someone else was brought in to play his original role.

It was fate at its finest and pretty cool for a couple of struggling hockey playing kids. They didn’t really have to act, this was their act. They are just naturally funny. But I had to ask my burning question. If there is only one Hanson, and two Carlsons, how come you’re not the Carlson Brothers?

“Well, you’re not supposed to use your real name for a movie.” Steve Carlson told me over the phone. He then explained Dave Hanson’s switch from one role to another, but I was still a little confused. I guess, like most other things, Hanson Brothers just works better.

But the Carlson boys were no joke hockey players. They were serious. When I asked him what on his impressive list of accomplishments he is most proud of his answer was “Being an American and making it to the NHL in the 70s at the time the Canadians dominated the WHA and the NHL.”

Misconception number one: The Hanson Brothers are not Canadian. They are American born and raised.

The three brothers from Minnesota, Jeff, Jack and Steve Carlson actually made it. They went the hard route playing high school and Jrs in Minneapolis. Steve signed a contract with the Minnesota Fighting Saint’s right out of high school. Making it to the NHL or WHA was very satisfying. And at 19 years old, Steve just wanted to be a Hockey Player. But the acting may be what he’s best known for.

The movie studio actually even offered the trio a 7 year contract, but they turned it down because for the first 3 years they could have had them film at any time -- including hockey season. They couldn’t agree to that. “I could be in Malibu right now! But I was only 20, my life was to play hockey. I wasn’t an actor.”

Can you imagine the merchandising that would have come out of that should they have accepted the 7 year deal? They may have been more popular than the Monkees! At least they did their own stunts.

Well, Carlson has now been in 3 films in 31 years so he says he’s a veteran of the movie business.
Slap Shot II, while no where near the classic as the original, was actually the impetus for the Hanson Brothers being honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. There was a huge exhibit and a gala party celebrated what the movie and these bespectacled lunk-heads brought to hockey. Ironically, the 3 AMERICAN born hockey icon’s don’t currently have any sort of exhibit or honor in the US Hockey Hall of fame which is basically 3 miles from Mr. Carlson’s home town.
Seriously, if the Toronto Hall of Fame can honor someone, shouldn’t the US Hockey Hall of Fame do the same? Is here a more recognizable trio in this sport than the Hanson Brothers? Um. Negative. This doesn’t make sense to me. The Hanson Brothers are some of the best Ambassadors for Hockey, touring constantly. “When you have three Americans, that can’t be honored in the US Hockey Hall of fame, I think it’s a shame.” I tend to agree.

Maybe they just didn’t like Slap Shot II? So let’s hope the next installment, Slap Shot III: The Junior League makes them sit up and take notice. The story line is a little more family oriented than its Parent’s, and it’s currently battling between a PG or PG-13 rating. Since it is a straight to DVD production, it will be widely available so you can relax at home with a nice bowl of popcorn and a few beers to watch it.

This installment follows the Hanson Brothers of today as they have lost their money through bad investments and other Hockey related pitfalls (ahem, ahem) so they have changed their ways and practice Zenovation (don’t ask me, I don’t know) and are asked to save (here it comes) an orphanage.

Leslie Nielsen (who made me crack up in all his other silly movies) stars as the mayor of Charlestown. Hockey legend Mark Messier (grrrr... Ex-Ranger that made Jason Blake turn purple by choking him.) has a cameo appearance, (I'll be sure to be in the kitchen for that) and so does former NHL star Doug Gilmour. The orphanage is named Newman House, an apparent tribute to ailing “Slap Shot” star Paul Newman, who played Reggie Dunlop in the original.

The brothers become the orphans' sponsors to try to keep their orphanage from being replaced by condos. They try to teach the kids how to win the right way, but of course, since it is the Hanson Brothers, at one point… all Hell breaks loose. Sounds like a little bit “Blues Brothers,” a little “Mighty Ducks.” Personally, I don’t care. It’s a hockey movie that I can watch in my living room and have a good time with. I’m looking forward to it.

So look for the release some time in November at a retail store near you. And check their website for additional updates.