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The "Slap Shot" Story with Dave Hanson

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 23, 2024 3:02 am

The "Slap Shot" Story with Dave Hanson

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 23, 2024 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the choice of three then-minor league hockey players to play the Hanson Brothers in "Slap Shot" starring Paul Newman was a casting hat-trick. When Dave "Killer" Hanson—was drafted for the movie, the Hanson brothers were born. This is his story.

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There's a lot happening these days, but I have just the thing to get you up to speed on what matters without taking too much of your time. The Seven from The Washington Post is a podcast that gives you the seven most important and interesting stories, and we always try to save room for something fun. You get it all in about seven minutes or less.

I'm Hannah Jewell. I'll get you caught up with The Seven every weekday. So follow The Seven right now. With dozens of streaming services, box office films, and content to choose from, people are spending over two and a half years of their lives searching for what to watch. But The Hollywood Reporter brings you THR Charts, one place for you, your family, and friends to find the most watched TV shows and movies every week. THR Charts is a guide to help you spend less time scrolling through platforms so that you can spend more time watching and binging the content everyone is talking about, all supported by data and trusted sources like Nielsen, Comscore, and Para Analytics.

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Get your yard spring ready with the Ryobi One Plus Leaf Blower, now just $89 during Spring Black Friday at the Home Depot. How doers get more done. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. Decades after it was released in 1977, the movie Slapshot holds up as one of the true classics of American sports film. Its comical depiction of a minor league hockey team resorting to violent play to gain popularity in a declining factory town still resonates with audiences around the world. Much of the film's success has to do with Paul Newman's performance as an aging player coach, but the movie might never have achieved its iconic status without the bespeckled, brawling characters known as the Hanson Brothers, played by former Johnston Jets players Steve and Jeff Carlson and David Hanson. Dave Hanson grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he eventually starred in football, baseball, and hockey at Humboldt High School. He played for the University of Minnesota under legendary coach Herb Brooks, and of course that's hockey. Hanson then played for the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars in the National Hockey League. The following excerpts are from a video interview with Dave Hanson by Paul Guggenheimer. It was recorded in Pittsburgh and is provided courtesy of Primal Interviews with Paul Guggenheimer. Let's go to Dave Hanson.

What I tell people is the movie is based on more fact and fiction. It was based on a team that I was playing for in Johnstown, Pennsylvania called the Johnstown Jets in 1974-75, and pretty much everything that goes on in the movie happened in one form or fashion. There was three brothers playing for us. There were big, tough, war-glasses named Jeff, Jack, and Steve Carlson. There was a fellow on the team that was called Dave Killer Hanson, i.e.

me. Dave was here. Dave's a killer! Dave's a killer. Dave's a mess.

Dave's a mess. And then all the other characters on the team or on the other teams were either real characters of the game or a combination of characters of the game. So when Nancy Dowd, who was the sister of one of the players on the team, came down and started following us around and wrote the script, obviously they wrote in the three brothers and the killer and a few other people, and when they got around to making the film and casting for the film, they wanted to get actors like Nick Nolte, Peter Straus, and a group of Hollywood actors to play these roles, of course because you had Paul Newman, the number one actor at the time of Hollywood. Well these guys could not skate.

No matter how they tried, they gave them lessons and took them out in hockey practices and hired private instructors, and they just couldn't get them to skate well enough to make it look like a professional game. So Nancy basically said, why don't we go back and let these guys be themselves and see if that would work out, and basically that's what happened. They came back to Johnstown, they'd be in Hollywood, George Ray Hill, the director, Nancy and a few others, and sat the Carlson brothers down and sat myself down and we read a few lines in the script and they shook their heads and yet they still took a shot at us and pretty well casted us, and so it was gonna be Jeff Jack and Steve Carlson were gonna be the Hanson brothers.

Dave Killer Hanson was gonna be Dave Killer Carlson, but Jack ended up going to Edmonton Oilers to play when we got around to filming, so they just plucked me out of the Carlson role and threw me in as a Hanson brother, and we were off and running, or off and skating I should say. Okay guys, show us what you got. When we got first stuck in front of the camera and we're told to act and we're given lines, we really were bad. We were robotic and it took a couple times and you could see where George Ray Hill was getting frustrated. It finally got to the point where George said, let's stop for a minute and take a breath and pull this aside. He says, okay boys, this doesn't seem to be working too well, he says, so let's try a different angle.

What would you do in this situation? You'd set it up and we'd say, I don't know, we would just react, we would probably just do something else. So let's give that a try. Next shot we did and we pulled it off, we kind of ad libbed some stuff and threw in the regular stuff and he just says, that's great, don't change it, that's the way we'll roll from now on. So it really boiled down to, quite frankly, that the actors were the one acting, the hockey players were ourselves, we're just being ourselves. The Hansons. We were 20, 21, 22 years old and I had ordered the three of us and when they first came to us and they said, hey, would you guys like to do a movie, we said, well, how long is it going to take?

It's going to take two, three months, three or summer. Well, we were used to taking the summers off, going back to Minnesota, playing softball all summer long, drinking beer and getting ready for training camp in the fall. So it's like, okay, well why not, let's give this a try. So we had no idea. For us it was just an opportunity to drink a lot of beer, have free food, get paid for doing something and meet Paul Newman and hopefully meet some chicks and hopefully have some fun doing it. So we had no clue, even to the point where before the film came out, Universal Studios came back to us and offered us a seven year, seven movie contract deal. And we said, nah, we want to be hockey players, we don't want to be actors.

So there's an indication of how smart we were. I was having a pregame nap in my apartment and there's knocking going on in the door and it wakes me up and there's knocking still going on, what the, you know, it's like open the door and I'm in my underwear and my dirty sweat socks and I just open the door and I go, what? And he looks up and he says, you Dave Hanson? I says, yeah.

And he says, I'm Paul Newman. I says, yeah, well you are Paul. He says, yeah. He says, geez, did we wake you? And I says, well, yeah, kind of. And he says, well, you know, and then he apologized and I said, you know, I'm going, oh, no, no problem. I says, what's up? He says, well, I got some, you know, art director with me and a couple of movie guys, set guys and they want to come in and take a look at a hockey player's apartment and we want to see what it looks like.

Do you mind if we come in? And I says, Paul, I got no problem as long as you let me go back to bed, you know, and just stay out of my bedroom, you can do whatever you want. So, and he said, before I went, he says, yeah, no, we'll be quiet and we just want to look around and take some pictures and some Polaroids and, and then he says, but, hey, Dave, he says, yeah, you got any beer in the fridge? I says, yeah, what's up? He says, well, the race is on. He says, you know, I'd like to maybe crack a beer and sit down and watch the race while these guys, he says, no, no problem, drink as much as you want, TV's in there, go for it.

So that was the first meeting of Paul, which was the start of a very good long friendship. Really what we were hearing more than anything was the reviews in the hockey community. You would hear the, you know, the, the GMs of the teams or, uh, you know, the commissioner of the league would say, you know, that movie's a disgrace. You know, it doesn't portray hockey. And then of course you'd hear the players saying, that's absolutely right on.

You know, it's, it's the way it is, you know, obviously a little satirical about it, but that's, that's the way it is. And I'm telling you, Broome County is just visibly upset by this display. Come on down and get places for the home games, bring the kids. We got entertainment for the whole family.

It was short-lived. It didn't bother us. In fact, we ended up, we would have more fun than anything because now we would go into, we'd go into arenas to play a hockey game.

And I'll use Dallas as an example. I went into Dallas where they hated me and I always got booed, you know, in warmups and this and that. So typically I'm skating around in warmups one time and I'm hearing the bone and I finally look up and there's an entire section of fans up there with the glasses and the fake nose and holding the Charlestown Chiefs Booster Club and it was just hilarious. So everybody started having a good time with it. I'd face off against, you know, against an opponent that we'd fight all the time and he'd look at me and I'd look at him and he'd say, buy a soda after the game. So it was good stuff.

Buy a soda after the game. The one that I think of mostly is Siskel and Ebert on David Letterman's show and I think the question was something like David to Siskel and Ebert. Is there ever a movie that you watched, critiqued? And then later on you kind of went back and realized you made a mistake on and they said absolutely, Slapshot. He says, when we first saw Slapshot, you know, we gave it a thumbs down. Later on looked at it closely and realized, you know, what a great film that was and now it's historically always in the top 10 of the best sports movies of all time. And thanks to Greg Hengler as always for finding this and doing the work he always does for us on the producing and editing front. And by the way, again, if you have not seen Slapshot, watch it with a family. I mean, it is just great family entertainment and you will laugh and then you'll just keep laughing.

You don't have to know hockey to love Slapshot. Dave Hanson story, the story of one of America's great sports movies here on Our American Stories. With dozens of streaming services, box office films and content to choose from, people are spending over two and a half years of their lives searching for what to watch. But The Hollywood Reporter brings you THR charts, one place for you, your family and friends to find the most watched TV shows and movies every week. THR charts is a guide to help you spend less time scrolling through platforms so that you can spend more time watching and binging the content everyone is talking about all supported by data and trusted sources like Nielsen comScore and paired analytics.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-23 04:44:06 / 2024-04-23 04:50:06 / 6

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