Minor-league hockey is coming back to Johnstown, Pa.
Fans of the movie Slap Shot will remember that the blue-collar western Pennsylvania town was the inspiration and the setting for the 1977 Paul Newman movie, which glorified the sport’s lust for fighting and introduced the bespectacled Hanson brothers, who weren’t afraid of starting brawls – occasionally before the opening puck was dropped. Newman played the wily player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs – a barely fictionalized version of the real-life Johnstown Jets – and much of the movie’s on-ice action was filmed at the city’s 4,000-seat Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Last week, local officials announced that the Alaska Avalanche of the North American Hockey League would be moving into the War Memorial next season, giving hope to local fans that they’ll soon be able to root for a team with Jets or Chiefs plastered across their sweaters. Alas, those team names were quickly nixed today. “[The Janesville] Jets are in the league already,” principal owner Jim Bouchard said at a press conference. “We did approach to try to get the Chiefs name back. We can’t get the Chiefs name back because it’s owned by the ECHL.”
So what should they call the new Johnstown hockey franchise? They’ve got to nod to the movie somehow, don’t they? “Some of the names that are coming out are legacy-type names that the Johnstown folks will be happy with versus some crazy new name,” Bouchard said, according to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. A decision is expected in the next five days. Vote below for your choice.