Steve Carlson portrayed one of the rough and tumble irreverent 'Hanson Brothers,' in the iconic 1977 hockey movie “Slap Shot.”
In reality, the 1973 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Virginia was a finesse-type player who could skate and score.
But Carlson is now in the biggest fight of his life.
Carlson is battling Stage 4 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma.
“I'm prepared for everything they can give me,” Carlson said Wednesday night from his home in Johnstown, Pa. “You can sit back and say 'woe is me,' but that won't get you anywhere doing that.”
Metastatic squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer of the squamous cells of the skin that make up the middle and outer layers of skin. It's often referred to as neck cancer.
Carlson on Tuesday started treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“I have seven weeks of radiation Monday through Friday and chemo every 21 days,” Carlson said. “I'm actually doing a clinical trial so I can help people down the road. The Hanson Brothers are done and I like to just keep giving back. We'll get it done. They're very confident that it's curable.”
The treatments will continue for several months, he said.
“I'm walking into this thing as positive as possible,” Carlson said. “I might as well make the best out of it as I can.”
Another challenge Carlson is facing is treatment and associated costs.
“I have been retired for 33 years, and unfortunately I did not play enough games while working in the NHL (National Hockey League) to qualify for a pension or benefits,” Carlson said in a GoFundMe post. “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.”
“Putting on the Foil,” is a reference to an infamous line in the movie where the Hanson brothers in the locker room put aluminum foil on their knuckles to prepare for hockey fights.
“What are you guys doing?” puzzled actor Paul Newman, who portrayed player-coach Reggie Dunlop said.
“Putting on the foil – every game – Yeah, you want some?” said the Hanson brothers.
“No,” said Dunlop.
Carlson and older brother Jeff, who also played at Virginia, starred in “Slap Shot,” along with Dave Hanson.
The three were known in the movie as the Hanson brothers.
Steve and Jeff's brother Jack, who also played at Virginia, had been called up to play with the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association and couldn't act in the movie.
Steve was drafted in round five of the 1974 World Hockey Association amateur draft by the Minnesota Fighting Saints. He was also drafted in round eight of the 1975 National Hockey League draft by the Detroit Red Wings.
Carlson went on to play 173 games in the World Hockey Association, scoring 33 goals and 47 assists with 132 penalty minutes.
In 1979-1980, he played for the Los Angeles Kings, scoring nine goals with 12 assists and 23 penalty minutes in 52 games. He roomed with Wayne Gretzky.
Carlson later coached three minor league hockey teams from 1986-1993.
Carlson said he and wife Vicki are facing lodging, transportation and a multitude of other expenses.
“Throughout my career, I have been involved extensively with numerous charity fundraisers, such as Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude's Hospital and many more,” Carlson said 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.”
Support for Carlson has been pouring in on the GoFund Me page from the tight-knit hockey community.
“I believe God has a purpose for me now,” Carlson said Wednesday. “You have to go through trials and tribulations in life and there's something he's preparing me for. I'm in great hands. God is in control and he has a plan.”