BY DON SCOTT
Hershey Bears forward Christian Hanson was born in Glens Fall, N.Y., home to the Bill Dineen family, one of the more famous hockey families in the world, and lived there about 10 years before moving to Pennsylvania.
During that time the Adirondack Red Wings were affiliated with the NHL Detroit Red Wings and the young Hanson spent a lot of his time in the arena that started his march into pro hockey.
“I never met Bill, but his son Gord was the assistant coach for the Marlies when I was there and Bill was my dad’s coach in Glens Falls,” Hanson said, following a recent Hershey practice.
“Dad probably wanted me to play hockey, but didn’t push it on me so I played football, lacrosse and baseball,” Hanson continued, “but as I got older, I started to focus on hockey because I enjoyed it the most.”
Later, Hanson’s dad was the general manager of the Capital District Islanders, so he spent a lot of time at the Troy Field House, later the elder Hanson became vice president of Albany when the team moved there.
His father Dave – for those who perhaps don’t know the name – is the famous Dave Hanson who appeared in the classic hockey movie “Slap Shot” that starred Paul Newman and included a bit part for a young Bruce Boudreau, current coach of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
“People know the name and like to have fun with it because of the movie,” Hanson said with a big smile, “but I had no ties to Washington and actually didn’t know coach Boudreau was in the movie until after I signed with them.”
The Hanson family moved to Pennsylvania in the mid-90s, when dad took a job with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It worked out great since his mother’s family lived in the Johnstown area.
During his sophomore year at Peters Township High School, Christian was a teammate of Matt Clackson (Chicago Wolves) on the team that won the PIAA Class AA championship, then played for the Midget 3-A Pittsburgh Hornets. Christian Hanson went on to earn a degree in finance from Notre Dame, where he played hockey for the Irish, but didn’t end up being drafted.
“I signed as a free agent with Toronto and played for both the NHL Maple Leafs (42 games) and the AHL Marlies until I signed as free agent with Washington this summer,” Hanson said. “I’ve been fortunate to have had the NHL time I did so far, considering I wasn’t drafted. It was a great experience and gave me a taste that makes you want to get back up there again.
“After last season I was an unrestricted free agent and my agent made a list of teams who were interested,” continued Hanson, “and we went through what each team had to offer and the structure of Washington just seemed, top to bottom, to be the best fit for me.”
Growing up, Hanson was a goalie and because of where he was living at the time, the only team he could watch on TV was the New Jersey Devils, so goalie Martin Brodeur became his favorite player.
“It’s funny that my first NHL goal, in my third game was against Brodeur, so it was pretty neat to get my first goal against my childhood favorite player,” Hanson said. “I got two more, so I have three and my dad has just one, so I remind him I have three times more goals than he does.”
Now 25, Hanson, like all the others his age, wants to get to the NHL for an extended period of time.
“I just need to keep working on what I need to do to make that happen,” said Hanson. “There really isn’t any one specific thing I need, it’s more of working on my all-around game and play the best I can. At any given moment, there can be an injury and you just need to be ready.”