New generation of Hanson gets Shot at the big-time

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- It was a simple rookie prank executed to perfection. And it was the moment Dave Hanson knew his son wasn't an NHL novelty act.

For his first game as a pro, Christian Hanson was sent on the ice first for the warmup while his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates stayed back in the tunnel to watch the new guy's egg-on-his-face solo lap.

"When they gave him the rookie thing, I just laughed," said the proud father, a man forever immortalized for his role in the epic hockey movie, Slap Shot.

"That was a good sign. That means the players have accepted him. I saw the (Leafs) players laughing and he was laughing. It's pretty exciting for him and for me and his mom to see him out there."

As he has done often this season with rookie players, head coach Ron Wilson put Hanson in the starting lineup for the Leafs' 8-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Any time you lose, you never feel like you played well, but I just tried to keep my play simple," said Hanson, who logged 17 minutes and 38 seconds of ice time and had one shot on goal.

"The first game is something special. I just wish it would have gone different."

He didn't get a win, but Hanson certainly had a souvenir of his NHL debut -- a fat lip courtesy of the stick of Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen.

Hanson's parents, Dave and Sue, made the five-hour drive from suburban Pittsburgh yesterday, but they weren't the only high-profile members of the rookie's fan club.

Two former Notre Dame football stars also made the trip. Tom Zbikowski of the Baltimore Ravens and Trevor Laws of the Philadelphia Eagles both were in the house to see their pal face the Flyers.

"They were two of my best friends at school," Hanson said following the morning skate. "I'm pretty excited they are here. I've kept in touch with Tom on a weekly basis. He has been very encouraging this week, telling me that I'm here for a reason and just to go out and do the things that got me here."

And it had nothing to do with foil on the knuckles or gaudy glasses.


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