Slap Shot City Losing Hockey Team for Real

Struggling Pa. economy forces Johnstown Chiefs south
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Suggested by SwellConvivialGuy
Posted Mar 30, 2010 8:05 AM CDT
Sean Jeffries dons the head of Tom E. Hawk, the Johnstown Chiefs' mascot, as he prepares to greet fans during a game against the Kalamazoo Wings in Johnstown, Pa.    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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(Newser) – Life is imitating fiction too closely for hockey fans' comfort in the small western Pennsylvania city where Slap Shot was filmed. In the cult 1977 movie loosely based on Johnstown's team, the coach played by Paul Newman boosted player morale by telling them the team was moving south. Now, the owners of the Johnstown Chiefs, unable to turn a profit in a city that never recovered from the steel industry's decline, are moving the team to South Carolina.

Business owners say the loss of the team will be another blow to the struggling local economy but Dave Hanson—who started his playing career in Johnstown and played one of the movie's hard-hitting Hanson Brothers—predicts hockey will return to the town. "The thing about Johnstown is that the city has always been resilient," he told the Toronto Star. "It's come back from the floods, the shutdown of the steel mills and coal mining, and the loss of hockey teams."

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