From DU Hockey Alum To Minnesota State Senator

(left) LetsGoDU spoke to former DU and professional hockey player Dave Tomassoni who is now a Minnesota State Senator about the potental impact of the proposed Big Ten Hockey Conference

David Tomassoni, from Chisholm, Minnesota is a State Senator in the Minnesota Senate representing Senate District 5, which includes portions of St. Louis County. Located in Northeastern Minnesota, St. Louis County is known for its spectacular natural beauty, including a national forest and a national park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, four state parks and 1000 Lakes. Iron mining and logging are the two biggest job suppliers..and the area boasts a rich political history. Hibbing is the largest city in Tomassoni's senate district.

A Democrat, Tomassoni was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 where he served for 8 years. He was then elected to the Senate in 2000 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006 and is seeking re-election again in November. He is currently a member of the Senate's Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, the Capital Investment Committee, the Finance Committee, the Higher Education Committee and is the Chair of the Economic Development and Housing Finance Committee.

Tomassoni played high school hockey in Minnesota at Chisholm High School. He went on to play WCHA hockey at the University of Denver from 1971-75 and later played 16 years of professional hockey in Italy. He likes to say he made millions but it was in Italian Lire. He even played ice hockey in the Olympic games for Italy in 1984 in Sarajevo.

1). What was one of your best memories of playing in the WCHA in the 1970's for DU?

Probably winning the WCHA title in Wisconsin my freshman year. We had to beat Wisconsin twice on the road. The fans broke down the doors to get in and the place was packed. We carried 7 defensemen and I was one of 4 freshman defenseman. Murray Armstrong decided to kill penalties with 4 defenseman so it gave us ample opportunity to play. I believe we killed 24 penalties in the two games without getting scored on. If my memory serves me, we won the first game 2-1 and second 7-2.

Scoring my only hat trick as a Senior (all three on the backhand) would be a much better memory had we won the game.

2). Do you play ice hockey these days?

I played until I was 38 and the last time I played was 2006 when Senator John Kerry came to Minnesota and wanted to play some hockey so I went out on the pond for one last time.

3). How did you get involved in politics?

I've always been intrigued by politics going back to the student council in the 7th grade. In 1992, a Minnesota House of Representatives seat opened up and Idecided to give it a try and won. I served for 8 years as a StateRepresentative and I've been a State Senator for the last 10 years and I am currently the Chair of Economic Development and Housing Finance Committee...

4). Are there any other former hockey players in the Minnesota Senate?

There are a few...All good friends of mine and one is the president of the Senate Jim Metzen. He's still got a goaltending record from the 1962 Minnesota High School State Tournament.

5). True or False; I hear Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty likes to talk about his exploits as a junior varsity ice hockey player in high school?

Ha ha...Not sure, but I do know that Doug Woog cut him from the varsity...So, I guess junior varsity is as far as he got. To his credit, he still laces them up today..

6). How important is it to create jobs and infrastructure in rural Minnesota districts such as St. Louis County?

It's a 24 hour per day job as good jobs make all the difference. On the Iron Range, our natural resource based economy(iron ore mining and logging) responds rapidly to changes in the national and world economies. When the Steel industry gets the hiccups, the Iron Range gets the Flu...We are very prone to boom and bust cycles so diversifying our job base has been the emphasis of many of our political endeavors.

7). As a former collegiate hockey player do you still follow the WCHA?

Yes...and I still think college hockey is the most entertaining level of hockey, (unless of course, some one is watching their grandson playing at the mite level.).

8). Last Friday Penn State announced that they were going to start playing Division I ice hockey thanks in large part to a $88 million donation to the University from an alumnus. Coach Don Lucia of the Minnesota Gophers said, "I think it's safe to say that if Penn State is adding hockey, it's to play other Big Ten schools," My question is, if Minnesota leaves the WCHA and joins a new Big Ten Hockey Conference, do you think that universities such as St. Cloud State, Bemidji State, Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State-Mankato and the surrounding communities would be economically affected?

The rivalries that have been developed are historic and if the U of M leaves the WCHA, it would undoubtedly impact the league and local communities and I believe it would be a mistake. The ultimate impact on surrounding communities should be minimal unless the WCHA decides to fold. .I don't see that happening . The reason I say "minimal" is I don't think the U of M can afford to not play these teams in non conference games, for, yes, the economic impact..Yet, I do think Wisconsin and Minnesota need to be careful as they may be entering a league that is less competitive and without the history that is currently present. Remember, there are now twelve teams in the WCHA and if two leave to play in a six team league, you have to wonder, "which league is really the "Big Ten"?"

9). Should a public universities such as the University of Minnesota or the University of Michigan do something that might significantly harm several other public colleges and communities in their state for a couple of hundred thousand in extra revenue each season?

No they should not but unfortunately, it's all about money.. ..and as I stated earlier I don't think the change should be made...Instead, it would make sense to add a team to say, the WCHA or CCHA. College hockey has its own little niche and for some reason it just doesn't get the publicity that Basketball or Football receive, except for at the universities that have a rich hockey history. I think it would be a mistake to discount that significance just to realize a few extra bucks.

10). Final question. Where's the best place to fish in northeastern Minnesota?

No secret fishing holes revealed here...

Thanks, Dave.


puck swami said...

Great interview.

Tomassoni says all the right things to placate the little guys, but ultimately, when the BTHC happens, it will be hard to tell the Gophers they can't be a hockey member of a conference where all their other sports are...

I expect Minnesota will cut a deal where at least half their non-conference games will be against other Minnesota schools.

Aluuum said...

Good questions. Ho hum standard political non answers. What's new?