Leafs lock up Hanson

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:55 AM ET

Forward Brad May figures that conservatively he has seen the movie Slap Shot 100 times.

Defenceman Ian White said that as a junior, the epic film that glorified hockey's Hanson Brothers was shown on the bus on at least every other trip.

So if nothing else, the acquistion of a second-generation Hanson will break the ice when 23-year-old Christian joins the Maple Leafs today.

A son of tough guy Dave Hanson, part of the pugilistic trio from the hockey classic, the undrafted NCAA prospect was signed to a two-year entry-level contract by the Leafs yesterday, one of six NHL suitors for the big centre.

MIGHT PLAY FRIDAY

"Essentially, it's almost like getting a free first-round pick," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of the signing. "(Hanson) is already well on his way. It's not like playing an 18-year-old first-round pick."

The Leafs won't wait long to see what they have in Hanson, whose four-year career with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended this past weekend. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound centre likely is to get his first start Friday in Philadelphia.

As for the notorious legend of his family name, Hanson embraces the reputation while confident he has earned his shot on his own rather than the name on the back of his sweater.

PROUD OF SLAP SHOT

"I love it -- I can talk all day and all night about it," Hanson said yesterday from the airport in South Bend, Ind., as he awaited his flight to Toronto. "I'm proud of it and I recognize how much the movie means to people in hockey.

"But I'm also excited to get my shot in Toronto. I'd like to think I'm the type of player (Burke) is looking for and as a hockey player, you couldn't be going to a better place."

While there will be no foil on the knuckles, Hanson isn't shy about getting his nose dirty. With 16 goals and 15 assists in 37 games with the Irish, he was one of the team's most productive players.

"He's a big body with skill who goes hard to the net and he's an excellent skater," Wilson said. "We've managed to land one of the premier free agents out there."

ROB.LONGLEY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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