Interview: Hanson Brothers to Introduce ‘Slap Shot’ in Chicagoland

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CHICAGO – The legendary Hanson Brothers, those child-like ice hockey enforcers from the classic sports film, “Slap Shot” (1977), will be in the Chicago area January 24th-26th, introducing the movie, signing autographs and greeting admirers at the Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville, Ill., and the Hollywood Blvd Cinema in Woodridge.

The real life 1970s hockey players who portrayed the three brothers – Dave Hanson (Jack Hanson), Steve Carlson (Steve Hanson) and Jeff Carlson (Jeff Hanson) – were based on real brothers in Pennsylvania minor league hockey, the Carlson brothers. Jack Carlson was the brother of Steve and Jeff in real life, and they played together in those Pennsylvania leagues. Jack couldn’t do the movie, so Dave Hanson stepped in, and the filmmakers took his last name and re-christened the threesome to iconic status. The Hanson Brothers forever represent the free-wheeling nature of that brilliant film, starring Paul Newman (which he called his favorite film) and directed by George Roy Hill.

Hanson Brothers
The Hanson Brothers: Jeff (Jeff Carlson), Steve (Steve Carlson) and Jack (Dave Hanson)
Photo credit:

Viewed today, the adventures of a rag-tag minor league hockey team, riding on a bus from rust-belt town to rust-belt town in the dying factory wasteland of Pennsylvania, could be viewed as a symbolic downturn of American industrial might. Or it’s a foul-mouthed and joyful hockey movie. The brilliance of the film is that it works both ways, and is one of the great cinema experiences from the memorable 1970s. got the opportunity via phone to try and capture the Hanson Brothers in all their glory, and they didn’t disappoint. Details on their appearances in Chicagoland are below the interview. The film ‘Slap Shot’ has become an American Classic, analyzed for it’s hockey and multiple symbols of America at the time. I’ll let you guys play amateur film critics, what do you think the film symbolizes beyond the story?

Dave Hanson: It symbolizes old time hockey.

Steve Carlson: Like Eddie Shore! [Boston Bruin defenseman enforcer from the 1920s]

Jeff Carlson: Like Dit Clapper! [Shore teammate]

Steve Carlson: Like Gordie Howe!

All Three: Gordie! So much for the underlying symbolism. [Laughter] The film stars Paul Newman and is directed by George Roy Hill. What are your favorite stories about either Newman or the Director Hill during the filming of the movie?

Dave Hanson: My favorite story with Newman is that he was a great beer drinker and race car fanatic. He wanted all three of us to rent Hertz cars – with a hundred dollar deductible – and go up to the hills of Pennsylvania and race, and not worry about crashing them. And with George Roy Hill, Newman wanted him in the back seat. [laughs]

Steve Carlson: First, I want to correct you. ‘Slap Shot’ starred the Hanson Brothers, not Paul Newman. [laughs] We didn’t know anything about acting when we started the film, so when our first scene up the assistant director told us to get ready, and we told him we we’re ready and told him to screw off. They told this to George Roy Hill, and everyone was shocked that we’d tell the AD that. We were then corrected – when George Roy Hill says something, we go and do it.

Jeff Carlson: The Hanson Brothers – Steve, Jack and I – are pretty ticked off at Paul Newman. We brought him over to our apartment in Pennsylvania, because he was a new guy in town. I cook him up a big pot of popcorn.

Dave Hanson: Then I put our family recipe for salad dressing, for a pre-meal salad.

Steve Carlson: And I made the spaghetti sauce, and what did he do?

All Three: Stole the recipes!

Hanson Brothers
Bloody but Unbowed: The Hanson Brothers in ‘Slap Shot’
Photo credit: Universal Studios Where did you first see the film, and what was your reaction the first time you can on screen?

Dave Hanson: I think the first time we all saw it was in New Haven, at the premiere. It was pretty interesting, because George Roy Hill was a huge supporter of the theater arts at Yale, so we had the premiere there. We had the Yale cake eaters there, all sitting in theater watching the film, and next to them we had the cast and crew. We were the only ones laughing.

Steve Carlson: I was playing with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association at the time, and I took the team to see it. That was interesting. What were some of the other close encounters with that famous cast in the film?

Jeff Carlson: Back in the heyday, there was hazing or what we liked to call it, initiation. Jerry Hauser, who was playing ‘Killer’ Carlson, was a mouthy son of a gun. We sorta did a little job on him. Since you all played professional hockey at some level, what is the best real life story that happened to you in any league, that is as good or better than the movie?

Dave Hanson: After the film came out, I was playing Indianapolis in the Central Hockey League. The team went to Dallas to play, and there was a section of fans that were yelling my name, kept yelling my name. I eventually looked up, and the entire section had the fake nose and glasses on.

Steve Carlson: From the movie, other players thought I was tough. I wasn’t. [laughs] What made your era of professional hockey better than it is now, and what makes today’s game better than it was them?

Hanson Brothers, Paul Newman
The Boys with Paul Newman in ‘Slap Shot’
Photo credit: Universal Studios

Steve Carlson: Back in the days when we played, our theory was when somebody had the puck, they should be hit. It was tight checking, hard nose, in- your-face type of hockey. If a fight brought out, so be it. Now it’s more development, more skill, more skating and a high-intensity offense. But that really work that well, because there were more goals scored back in our time. We had Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as scoring machines. I find it to be more exciting back in those days.

Dave Hanson: I agree with Steve, and on the whole back then you had 20 guys playing their hearts out every night, and nowadays we’re lucky if half the guys are putting out the effort. What is the best hockey sweater of all time and why?

All Three: Blackhawks! You don’t have to say that because we’re here.

Steve Carlson: You’ve got the Blackhawks, the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs…

Dave Hanson: I was a big fan of the Minnesota Fighting Saints jersey.

Jeff Carlson: The Chiefs jersey! Finally. [Laughs]

[The Hanson Brothers start to ask trivia questions, and spout lines from the film.] [Laughs] Dudes, you don’t have to sell me, it’s one of my favorite films of all time, and one of the best films of the 1970s, because it’s such an obvious symbol for the crumbling infrastructure of America.

Jeff Carlson: I think ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ is a better movie.

Steve Carlson: There was some good infrastructure in that one! [Laughter] Finally, make an argument about how you’re the better hockey player than the other two and why?

All Three: We’re the Go Heads!

Steve Carlson: You can’t separate us, we’re a well-oiled machine.

The Hanson Brothers will sign autographs and introduce the film “Slap Shot” at the Hollywood Palms Cinema (Naperville, Ill) on Saturday, January 25th. They will introduce the film at Hollywood Blvd Cinema (Woodridge) on Friday, January 24th and Sunday, January 26th. For more information, show times and tickets, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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