Saturday, February 25, 2012

1976-77 Charlestown Chiefs Reg Dunlop Jersey

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the classic 1977 movie Slap Shot, starring legendary actor Paul Newman as the fast-talking "Reg" Dunlop.


Written by Nancy Dowd, Slap Shot, about the sad-sack minor league Charlestown Chiefs and their reversal of fortunes coinciding with the arrival of the notorious Hanson Brothers, draws heavily from the real life Johnstown Jets and the Carlson Brothers, Jack, Steve and Jeff.


In addition, the real life Goldie Goldthorpe is clearly the inspiration for the afroed character of Ogie Ogilthorpe, who was played in the film by writer Dowd's own brother Ned, who inspired Nancy and assisted her by collecting stories while he was playing in the minors.


Jack Carlson was supposed to portray one of the three Hanson brothers in the film, however he was called up to play in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers during filming. In his place, Dave Hanson was chosen to join Jeff and Steve as the third Hanson brother with actor Jerry Houser cast into Hanson's original role as Dave "Killer" Carlson, which was based on Dave Hanson.

In the movie, the Chiefs, members of the Federal League, are a downtrodden club in financial trouble, mainly due to unemployment issues facing Charlestown, and are due to fold at the end of the season.

During the course of the season the club adds the Hanson brothers, an immature trio of horn-rimmed glasses wearing thugs player/coach Dunlop is reluctant to even let on the ice. Finally, Dunlop relents and, as the Hansons hit the ice, complete mayhem follows as the Hansons hit everything in sight - that is when they aren't fighting everyone in sight. The fans in Charlestown go crazy at the antics of the Hansons, something Dunlop can't help but notice. As the Hansons are given more ice time, the fans at the games grow in number and enthusiasm, even following the team on road trips. Soon their teammates begin to adopt the Hansons violent, high-sticking, brawling style of play, at the urging of Dunlop.

Slap Shot fight, Slap Shot fight

Meanwhile, Dunlop keeps the team's morale up by fabricating a story about the potential sale and relocation of the club to a buyer who would move the franchise to Florida. In the end, Dunlop confesses to the team before the final and deciding game of the championship playoffs that there is no secret buyer and the team is in fact, playing their final game. And if it is to be his final game, Dunlop wants to go out playing clean and with dignity, which the rest of the Chiefs agree to. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their violent, yet successful ways have influenced their opponents, the Syracuse Bulldogs, to round up the largest collection of thugs possible, including Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken, Gilmore Tuttle, Andre "Poodle" Lussier, Ross "Mad Dog" Madison, Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown and none other than rookie Ogie Ogilthorpe.

Tim McCracken, Tim McCracken
Tim McCracken showing how he got the nickname "Dr. Hook"

After being battered by the Bulldogs, the Chiefs finally fight back and the game degenerates into a brawl, with only the Chiefs high scoring forward Ned Braden refusing to participate. Braden "fights back" by going onto the ice in the middle of the melee and shocks everyone on the ice and in the arena by performing an impromptu strip-tease, which causes all the combatants to stop and stare in bewildered amusement.

McCracken demands that the referee stop Braden, and when he refuses, McCracken slugs the referee, who disqualifies the Bulldogs, giving the Chiefs the championship and the trophy, which Braden joyfully skates around while wearing nothing but his jockstrap.

Ned Braden, Ned Braden
Ned Braden parades the Federal League championship trophy while Reg Dunlop celebrates

The movie has attained cult status in the hockey community, often cited as the #1 hockey movie of all time. Many classic quotes from the film have woven their way into the hockey vocabulary, such as
  • "You do that, you go to the box, you know. Two minutes by yourself, you know, and you feel shame, you know. And then you get free."
  • "Ok guys. Show us what you got."
  • "Hey Hanrahan! She's a lesbian!"
  • "Dave's a mess."
  • "I'm listening to the f***ing song!"
  • "The fans are standing up to them! The security guards are standing up to them! The peanut vendors are standing up to them! And by golly, if I could get down there, I'd be standing up to them!"
  • "puttin' on the foil!"
and of course,
  • "Old time hockey, like Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper and Toe Blake. Those guys were the greats!"

The Carlson brothers would all go on to have professional careers, which included all three brothers playing for the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA, glasses and all, at the same time during the 1975-76 season, which should be noted was based on merit and not an attempt to capitalize on the fame of the movie, which would not even be released until 1977.


Jack Carlson would play in 272 games in 5 WHA seasons and 236 games in 6 NHL seasons. Steve Carlson totaled 173 WHA games and 52 NHL games in 5 combined seasons, while Jeff Carlson skated in 7 WHA games plus nine more minor league seasons.

The "Hanson Brothers" have also attained cult status on their own, as Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson continue to make personal appearances as The Hansons and have even been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In addition, it's nearly impossible to attend and NHL game in person without seeing a Chiefs jersey in the stands, as they continue to be sold to this day, 35 years after the movie's original release.


Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Charlestown Chiefs Reg Dunlop jersey. The classic Charlestown Chiefs jersey was patterned after the Johnstown Jets jerseys, which in turn came from their parent club, the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA.

While we have taken care to match the fonts for the back and sleeve numbers to those used on the jerseys worn by Newman in the movie, which do not match each other. We did stray from authenticity a bit by adding the name "DUNLOP" to the back of our jersey, as none of the Chiefs jerseys in the movie had names on the back. Our jersey was originally purchased blank for a bargain price and did not come with the Charlestown All American City patch on the shoulder like those worn in the movie, but we have since custom created one and have added it to our jersey since these photos were taken.

Humorously, many of the Chiefs jerseys sold feature #16 on one sleeve, #17 on the back and #18 on the other sleeve to cleverly represent all three Hanson Brothers on the same sweater!

Charlestown Chiefs 77 jersey photo CharlestownChiefs77F.jpg
Charlestown Chiefs 77 jersey photo CharlestownChiefs77B-1.jpg

Plenty of video options today, but no better place to start than with the original movie trailer for Slap Shot.


Next up, the Hansons take to the ice for the first time, and the game of hockey will never be the same.


Here is a look back at Slap Shot on the 25th Anniversary of the movie's release, in two parts.



The popularity of the Hanson brothers has not waned, as they are still making people laugh over three decades later. Here is their appearance as part of the 2011 NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.



2 comments:

  1. Great article! You really caught the spirit of the thing!
    SlapShot is popular around the globe : where there is hockey, there is SlapShot.

    Official SlapShot movie jerseys can be found on www.madbrothers.com

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  2. I still laugh out loud every time I pop the dvd in, and I NEVER attend a game with out wearing my chiefs jersey(sweater s they say in hockey) I have even been on the jumbo tron at the lightning game once. best hockey movie ever. now if you will excue me, I have to get a soda grape or orange but none of that stinkin root beer . hahaha

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