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May 12, 2016

Oscar Hansen

One of the early great families in Minnesota hockey history is the Hansen brothers. No, not the similarly named Hanson Brothers of Slap Shot movie fame, though they were the inspiration for Paul Newman's creating of those famous characters.

We are talking instead about a set of five puck chasing siblings - Oscar, Emil, Julius, Joe and Lewis. Even long before the cult movie was created the Hansen brothers were regularly misnamed as the Hansons.

All five were born in the United States. Oscar and Emil - the two who made it to the National Hockey League, were born in South Dakota, and remain the only two NHLers ever born in that state.

The family may have been born there, but they relocated to Camrose, Alberta where  for a good portion of the kids' youth. The family eventually settled in Minneapolis, with all five starring for Augsburg College in the second half of the 1920s.

There was much confusion as to where the brothers were actually from, as many sources to this day will claim Camrose as their birthplace. This led to much controversy in 1928.

The American Olympic hockey team were looking to ice the Hansens but the Russians complained days before the event, claiming that they were Canadian. Though General MacArthur had documented proof of their birthplace, the White House ordered the team off the ice completely as part of a political statement regarding the increasingly tense relationship with the Russians.

Oscar was undoubtedly the most talented of the Hansens. In his first eight seasons as a pro he would lead CHL and AHA, most notably in St. Paul, teams in all scoring categories.

Hansen would get a chance to play in eight games with the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1937-38 season before returning to dominate with the Minneapolis Millers. He will forever go down as one of the greatest players in AHA league history.

As the 1940s rolled along Hansen had a nagging foot injury that began hampering his play. It was speculated to be early signs of Multiple Sclerosis after the fact. The disease would leave Hansen in a wheelchair for most of the second half of his life.

Hansen's son David was said to be an amazing star in youth hockey and at the University of Minnesota, but it was said his temper got the best of him. He later participated in both hockey and boxing while in the US military.

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