Hanson sees benefits in move

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

A grinning Christian Hanson notes that his famous father had little trouble deciding what position to play in the NHL.

"He was a fighter," Christian said of his Slap Shot sire. "Where ever he had to line up to get the guy from the faceoff, that's where he was."

Dave Hanson was actually a defenceman for 33 NHL games, sandwiched between a colourful career of minor-league mayhem, real and imagined.

But his more refined son has had a harder adjustment since graduating from Notre Dame in 2009. A centre in college, he was asked to make the Leafs as a winger, starting with training camp's evolution of the Frat Pack line with Tyler Bozak in the middle and Viktor Stalberg on the left.

Hanson wasn't exactly dominating the AHL on the right side, nor lasting very long during callups, but received welcome news last month.

"I came back from the (AHL) all-star game and they said they'd try me at centre, where I played my whole life," Hanson said.

That led to a promotion on Tuesday, moving an incumbent centre, John Mitchell, to the left side, with Lee Stempniak on the right.

"Playing centre and wing, you have two different mindsets," Hanson said. "At times, I found myself thinking like a centre. My dad was a little surprised because, from what he could tell, they were happy with me on the wing, but he kept telling me, it was just another tool to put in my tool box.

"Honestly, whatever keeps me up here, to benefit myself and the team, is fine. If you can play both spots, and if someone gets hurt, instead of sending you down and calling someone else up, you just fill that role yourself."

Hanson is happy and so too is Bozek, who is centring Phil Kessel.

"I think he'll probably be a better centre," coach Ron Wilson said of Hanson. "He skates well and, when you're on the wing, sometimes you're kind of restricted by the boards and expected to do different things. He's pretty good defensively, but it's just one game. Let's give him a while.

"Obviously, there are lots of openings on our team," Wilson said in the wake of six Leafs departing in weekend trades. "(Hanson and Bozak) don't have to look over their shoulders, they can relax and play. But they have to keep improving every day to maintain their position in the lineup."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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