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Sean Leahy

Ex-business partner recalls time in Hanson Brothers hell

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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Hersh Borenstein is the owner of Frozen Pond, one the leading memorabilia companies that specifically focuses on hockey autographs. The company has been around for quite some time and has a rather large collection of signed merchandise from over 300 current and former hockey players for sale.

Borenstein has dealt with plenty of athletes and their agents during his time in the business, so I was excited to see that he writes his own blog on the Frozen Pond Web site. It's an inside look at the dealings with players and agents, as well as some funny stories about his time in the memorabilia world.

As a person who previously worked in the sports memorabilia world (nowhere near the level that Borenstein is), I've dealt with my fair share of grumpy athletes and couldn't help but shake my head at the "controversial" Edmonton Oilers autograph signing back in October. For the record, hockey players were indeed the nicest bunch with which I worked.

Borenstein's most recent blog was originally about reviewing the latest Slap Shot cash grab; but before we found out about the movie, he took us inside of his former relationship managing the Hanson Brothers and the headache that grew into a migraine.

From Borenstein:

The Hansons, though, were far from easy to work with. Dave Hanson (#16) was an extremely difficult individual. He would matter-of-factly cancel appearances the day before he was set to appear. I would plead with him that these promoters had paid long before and had been advertising their appearance for months, but Dave would just tell me that I can't tell him what to do and he would not show up. The promoter would be on the hook for his flight as well. This got to be so routine that I just started booking two of the three Hanson's to appear, and would suggest that the team have a promotion whereas a lucky fan would win the right to be the third Hanson Brother and perform on ice with them. I mean - if you were only able to book Moe and Curly for an appearance during the Stooges heyday, would anyone really care if Larry was unable to attend?

No-showing for appearances was just the beginning of Borenstein's issues with the Hanson's.

Eventually, calls stopped being returned and Borenstein learned that the Hanson's had set up a Web site to sell their own memorabilia, leaving their former manager in the cold.

When contact was finally made, Broenstein writes, Steve Carlson explained that he had learned about Operation Bullpen, a huge Federal Bureau of Investigations sting that uncovered the biggest sports memorabilia forgery ring; and that after hearing up to 90 percent of autographs on the market were fakes, that Borenstein was selling fraudulent Hanson Brother memorabilia, despite purchasing numerous autographs from them over the years.

From there, the paranoia among the three grew, as two separate fan sites were cut off from communication and purchasing memorabilia. The alienation of supporters went even as far as the Hanson's being no shows at various charity events hosted by fellow Slap Shot cast members Louise Arters and Paul Newman. As Borenstein opined, "Did they want a fee to appear, or was it just that no one cared to invite them?"

A look at their official Web site's FAQ, one gets more insight into their shunning the memorabilia world and keeping things in-house:

What we tell our fans is what we believe; unless you saw us sign it, we wouldn't buy it and neither should you. "Certificates of Authenticity" aren't worth the paper they're printed on. We had no idea how many people were selling items supposedly autographed by us until we started contacting the sellers and asking where they were getting what they were selling. The numbers just didn't add up.

To put a stop to the bogus autographs out there, we decided to take action. We have not done a volume signing intended for resale in more than five years. There are no more items with our signature out there for resale. Zip, zero, nothing. The only way to ensure that it's real is to witness our signing at one of our personal appearances or to buy it from us through our web site. We are the single authorized source for our autographs, and that's the end of the story. We sell autographed merchandise only through the Steve Carlson Hockey Pro Shop.

You can purchase your own autographed photo of the three for only $30 U.S., not exactly the ideal desired signature for scammers. Operation Bullpen uncovered fake autographs of high priced memorabilia from athletes such as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and a number of United States presidents.

The amount of possible fraudulent Hanson Brothers merchandise on the market is likely nothing that would warrant the strange behavior they showed during Borenstein's time managing them.

And if you're wondering, Borenstein wasn't a fan of the third installation of Slap Shot, comparing it to a 90-minute version of Saved by the Bell.

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