JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Traditionally, Steve Carlson puts on the foil during his appearances with the Hanson Brothers in the movie “Slap Shot” and numerous promotional or charity events in arenas throughout the world.

Carlson, 66, recently made a much more serious announcement while using the Hanson Brothers iconic “Puttin’ on the Foil” theme.

The former Johnstown Jets player/Johnstown Chiefs coach and his wife, Vicki, established a GoFundMe page encouraging people to “Put on the Foil and FIGHT for STEVE CARLSON #17.”

Carlson announced on the webpage that he has been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic squamous cell carcinoma and will have daily radiation treatments for several months.

“On October 4, 2021, my world was flipped upside down,” Carlson posted, explaining when he and Vicki learned of his cancer diagnosis.

“Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) generally has a high survival rate,” Carlson wrote in his post. “The 5-year survival is 99% when detected early. Once SCC has spread to the lymph nodes (In my case) and beyond, the survival rates are lower. Yet this cancer is still treatable with surgery and other therapies, even in its advanced stages.”

A high-scoring forward with the Jets, Carlson and his brothers Jack and Jeff were mainstays at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Playing on a team with Dave “Killer” Hanson, captain Galen Head, Guido Tenesi, Vern Campigotto and other memorable Jets, Steve Carlson had a prominent role in Johnstown’s winning the professional North American Hockey League championship in 1974-75.

That team inspired Nancy Dowd’s script for the Paul Newman movie “Slap Shot,” filmed in Johnstown in 1976 and released a year later.

Carlson also played in the World Hockey Association, a rival to the National Hockey League, and he advanced to the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings, scoring nine goals and 21 points in 52 games during the 1979-80 regular season.

In his GoFundMe post, Carlson noted, “I have been retired for 33 years, and unfortunately I did not play enough games while working in the NHL to qualify for a pension or benefits.

“I have been completely reliant upon Social Security benefits and attending social appearances.

“Put on the Foil. Share this with everyone. It’s the only way it will work.”

Carlson’s former teammate and movie brother Dave Hanson believes the GoFundMe efforts will be a success that he hopes will help put Carlson on the road to recovery.

“If Jeff’s campaign was any indication how people love the Hanson Brothers and rallied around that, hopefully this fundraiser will be a huge success,” said Dave Hanson, who resides in Pittsburgh.

Hanson referred to a campaign that according to surpassed the set goal and raised $29,436 to assist Jeff Carlson in his treatment for throat cancer.

“One thing with Steve, Jeff and myself, anybody who has played this game, especially if you started at the lower levels and worked your way up like we did, you have a tendency to cross paths with a lot of people,” Dave Hanson said.

“Steve was always a good teammate, a leader and he captained some teams. He was in coaching.

“People always look up to him.

“The one thing about the hockey world is they pull together for their teammates. I suspect Steve will have a successful campaign, and hopefully he will have a successful treatment and fully recover. This is a shocker. I don’t know what else to say.”

“Puttin’ on the Foil” is a memorable phrase from “Slap Shot,” when Steve and Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson, who played the third Hanson Brother in the movie, were in the locker room taping aluminum foil to their knuckles to better pummel opponents during on-ice fights. Newman’s player-coach Reg Dunlop character looks on in disbelief.

The Hanson Brothers became film icons and later appeared in sequels to the movie. But their fame unexpectedly took off in 1992-93 when Steve Carlson was coaching the Memphis River- Kings in the Central Hockey League.

The Hansons made an impromptu appearance during a game in Memphis and ended up signing autographs for four hours. Their act gained momentum, with Zamboni skiing routines or playful bouts with goaltenders or officials on the ice. A Bud Light beer commercial and a cover shot in Sports Illustrated followed.

The movie brothers helped raise money for charities and fill seats for teams at all levels that brought the Hansons to their arenas.

The Hansons appeared at the War Memorial for the Johnstown Chiefs’ New Year’s Eve game in 1998 and for a book-signing event in conjunction with The Tribune-Democrat’s 2007 release of the book “Slap Shots and Snapshots: 50 Seasons of Professional Hockey in Johnstown.”

Of course, the Hanson Brothers were a part of the Kraft USA Hockeyville exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning in September 2015.

Steve Carlson returned to Johnstown as head coach of the ECHL’s Chiefs from 1988-89 through 1991-92, going 123-105-20. He later was a coach of the Bishop McCort High School team that won a Pennsylvania Cup in 1999.

Carlson had lived away from the area on the West Coast before returning in 2018, he said, to be nearer to his grandchildren.

“Throughout my career, I have been involved extensively with numerous charity fundraisers, such as Ronald McDonald House, Make-a-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and many more,” Steve Carlson wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“Helping others in need and raising awareness for these foundations has long been a passion for me and I was fortunate enough to help in raising more than $27 million for those charities.

“Now, I am in need of such help.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

Trending Video

Sports Reporter

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

Recommended for you