The Syracuse Crunch will pay tribute to Hollywood legend Paul Newman by raising a banner featuring the number 7 to the War Memorial at Oncenter rafters prior to their game on Saturday, Oct. 11, against the Rochester Americans.
Newman’s character, Reg Dunlop, wore the number 7 in the cult hockey film Slap Shot.
The tribute will take part during the Crunch’s opening night pregame ceremonies. Assisting in the banner raising ceremony will be the Crunch’s own Hanson Brothers, two brothers and a sister who have been in costume since the team’s first game in 1994.
The number 7 banner will remain in place for the 2008-09 season. A video tribute to Newman’s role in Slap Shot will be shown during the ceremony. Parts of Slap Shot were filmed at the Crunch’s home arena, the War Memorial at Oncenter.
“We find it very appropriate that an arena where parts of a legendary movie like Slap Shot, featuring a legendary actor like Paul Newman, were filmed, that Newman’s legacy should be recognized and honored throughout the season,” said Howard Dolgon, Crunch president and CEO.
In the film, Newman portrays Reg Dunlop, the aging veteran player-coach of the financially-troubled Charlestown Chiefs. The plot revolves around Dunlop planting a story in the media that there is a buyer in Florida interested in purchasing and relocating the team, which is scheduled to fold at the end of the season. Along the way, Dunlop changes the culture and image of his team by convincing his players to play "old-time hockey," fueled by the addition of the Hansons, three brawling brothers who have a penchant for dishing out pain to their opponents. The Chiefs quickly garner a reputation around the Federal League as a tough, hard-hitting club. This newfound attitude boosts attendance and the team’s success on the ice, as the Chiefs eventually win the Federal League championship game against the Syracuse Bulldogs.
Newman passed away at the age of 83 on Sept. 26 after a battle with lung cancer. The Academy Award-winning and seven-time Academy Award-nominated Newman is best known for his roles in such films as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting and The Color of Money. He was also famous for his philanthropy, starting a line of food products called Newman’s Own, of which all proceeds after taxes are donated to charity.
The Charlestown Chiefs were based on the real-life Johnstown Jets, a team that competed against the Syracuse Blazers in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in the 1970s.