March 31, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame senior center Christian Hanson (Venetia, Pa.) has signed a two-year NHL entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs and will join the team on Wednesday, April 1. The announcement was made Tuesday in Toronto, Ont., by Brian Burke, the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs.

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

Hanson, a second team all-CCHA selection in his senior season, had a career year for the Irish, scoring 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points with a +10 rating. The 6-4, 228-pound center had six power-play goals, one short-handed goal and tied for the CCHA lead with five game-winning goals.

He helped lead the Irish to a 31-6-3 overall record and their second CCHA regular-season and playoff championship in the last three seasons. Notre Dame also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season and saw its season end on Saturday, March 28 in a 5-1 loss to Bemidji State.

“It’s been crazy the last couple of days,” said Hanson, a finance major in the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame.

“I went from the worst day of my hockey career (the loss to Bemidji State) on Saturday to negotiating a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.”

Hanson expects to be in the lineup for Toronto on Friday night when the Maple Leafs visit the Philadelphia Flyers.

“They told me I would be playing on Friday against the Flyers,” explained Hanson.

“They talked about me playing on Wednesday, but figured it would be good for me to get a couple of practices with the team before I play.”

Like everyone who plays the game, making it to the National Hockey League is a dream come true for the 23-year old Hanson.

“It is definitely something that I’ve always dreamed about,” said Hanson.

“There were many times in my career that I didn’t think it would happen. But, I just kept at it and kept working hard to improve and now it has happened.”

For his career, Hanson, who served as one of the team’s alternate captains in 2008-09, played in 140 career games, scoring 36 goals and 28 assists for 64 points. He also had 123 penalty minutes in his Irish hockey career. He was part of a senior class that finished its career with a 103-48-14 record, the best four-year mark in the 41-year history of the Notre Dame hockey program. The 2009 senior class advanced to the CCHA championship in Detroit three consecutive years winning the playoff championship in 2007 and 2009.

Hanson played two seasons with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before playing at Notre Dame, serving as an assistant captain in 2004-05. He was selected as the winner of the USHL’s Curt Hammer Award that is presented annually to the league’s most gentlemanly player who embodies what the USHL stands for on and off the ice.” In his two seasons with the Storm, he played in 118 games, scored 30 goals with 41 assists for 71 points. In 18 playoff games over two years, he played in 18 games with three goals and three assists for six points.

Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Hanson played high school hockey at Peters Township High School for two seasons and is a product of the Pittsburgh Hornet hockey association.

Hanson is the son of Dave and Suzanne Hanson of Venetia, Pa. He will graduate from Notre Dame with a degree in Finance on Sunday, May 17.