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This Hanson won't need the foil to reach the NHL

by Brad Holland
Christian Hanson's mission to follow in his famous father's footsteps just took a giant leap forward.

And he (rarely) had to drop his gloves to do it.

Tuesday, Hanson signed a two-year, entry level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs after his collegiate career at the University of Notre Dame ended with a loss to Bemidji State in the NCAA Tournament on March 29.

Hanson isn't looking to follow his father into show business -- at least not yet. Instead, he's trying to follow his father's path to the NHL. And he does things a little differently than the old man did.

His father, Dave, gained more fame as one of the Hanson Brothers in the classic move Slap Shot. But Dave Hanson also had a pro hockey career that spanned 10 seasons (1974-84), and included some time in the NHL and the WHA, in which he amassed 562 penalty minutes in 136 major-league games. Christian Hanson, comparatively, never recorded more than 57 penalty minutes in any of his six junior or collegiate seasons.

The signing is a pay-off for Hanson's years of hard work, determination and belief that he could one day make the NHL.

Hanson was eligible for the 2005 Entry Draft and had an NHL Productions camera crew at his house to catch his reactions [WATCH VIDEO] when his name was called. But he went unpicked that year, and then went unselected in the two subsequent drafts in which he was eligible.

Hanson's determination and focus, however, never wavered. He took his scholarship to Notre Dame, had 29 goals in 84 games during his last two seasons, and had his determination rewarded.

Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke and his staff saw enough in Hanson to believe that one day he could reach his goal.

"We are excited to have Christian signed to a contract, and look forward to seeing him play for our organization," Burke said. "He is a very intelligent hockey player who has good size and a solid scoring touch around the net."

His college career started slowly, with 11 points his first two seasons, but this season he was third on the team with 31 points and tied for second with 16 goals.

Hanson will start his pro career with the Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, and have to prove himself again. But he is closer now to making his life-long dream come true -- closer than anyone, perhaps even himself, ever thought.

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