As reported in the Tribune-Democrat, former Johnstown Jets player and Johnstown Chiefs coach, Steve Carlson, found himself in a harrowing incident recently when he was involved in a bike accident. The accident was severe enough to warrant an emergency response, and an ambulance promptly rushed him to the hospital on a Wednesday.
Fortunately, there is some reassuring news about Carlson’s condition. According to a tweet from @Hanson_Brothers, which was posted on the same day as the accident, Steve is now awake, stable, and able to communicate. This update must have brought relief to the fans, friends, and family members who were undoubtedly concerned about his well-being.
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This unfortunate event adds to the challenges Carlson has been facing recently. Back in 2021, he received a diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic squamous cell carcinoma, a formidable foe that he has been courageously battling. Despite these health struggles, Carlson has shown incredible strength and resilience.
Taking a step back into history, Steve Carlson holds a significant place in the hockey world. During his playing days, he played a pivotal role in leading Johnstown to victory in the professional North American Hockey League championship during the 1974-75 season. This legendary team later became the inspiration for Nancy Dowd’s script for the iconic Paul Newman movie, “Slap Shot,” which was filmed in Johnstown in 1976 and released the following year. Carlson even had the honor of portraying one of the beloved Hanson Brothers in the movie, alongside his brother Jeff Carlson and former Jets teammate Dave Hanson. The Hanson Brothers became a symbol of the underdog spirit and the love for the game, leaving a lasting impact on both the hockey community and fans worldwide.
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Beyond the silver screen, Carlson’s hockey journey took him to the World Hockey Association, a formidable rival to the National Hockey League. His talent and dedication paved the way for him to make it to the NHL, where he donned the jersey of the Los Angeles Kings. During the 1979-80 regular season, Carlson showcased his skills by scoring nine goals and tallying 21 points in 52 games.
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Following his time as a player, Carlson made a significant contribution as a coach. He returned to Johnstown, this time as the head coach of the ECHL’s Chiefs from 1988-89 through 1991-92. During his tenure, he led the team to an impressive record of 123 wins, 105 losses, and 20 ties, solidifying his reputation as a skilled and capable coach.
Not limiting his coaching prowess to the professional leagues, Carlson also invested his time and knowledge in developing young talents at the grassroots level. He took charge of the Bishop McCort Catholic High School team, guiding them to victory in the Pennsylvania Cup in 1999, a testament to his commitment to nurturing the future of the sport.
Life eventually took Carlson away from his roots on the West Coast, but in 2018, he decided to return to Johnstown. His reason for returning was heartwarming, as he wanted to be closer to his grandchildren, emphasizing the importance of family bonds in his life.
As the hockey community and fans await further updates on Carlson’s condition after the recent bike accident, they continue to rally behind him with unwavering support, admiration, and gratitude for his immense contributions to the sport. His journey, marked by triumphs and challenges, serves as an inspiration to all who know him and showcases the true spirit of a dedicated player, coach, and family man.