Heard on the Hill talks to Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., about his love of hockey as the NHL playoffs heat up.
Q : Which NHL team are you rooting for this year?
A : You know what, the [Minnesota] Wild went out in the first round. Sadly, I am going to root for the [Washington] Caps. And I say sadly because I think they’re playing against probably the hottest team in the NHL right now [the Pittsburgh Penguins].
[Lobbyists Get the ‘W’ in Congressional Hockey Game]
Q : How did you originally get into hockey?
A : I started skating when I was probably three. As a very active young boy, I remember going over to my grandparents’ — they lived on their pond and they would shovel that. They put me in a snowmobile suit, they would put skates on my feet and they’d attach me to a chair. And I would push that chair back and forth for a half hour to an hour.
Q : Tell us about your pre-college career.
A : When I came out of high school, I didn’t know where I was going to go to college, and that summer I was one of 40 kids invited to try out for what was then called the U.S. Junior Olympic team. You had to be 18 to 20 years old to play and there were 40 of us. One of the people that were there called the Boston College coach, who came out to Minnesota and invited me to BC.
Q : And tell us about your college career.
A : Because my family’s lumber business had gone upside down … I actually took a leave from BC and went back to Minnesota. I attended a junior college and played hockey in the United States Hockey League while my dad and his brothers put the business back together. I had a guy come down from the University of Alaska and say, ‘you know, unless you think you’re going to play in the NHL, you can get a great education and you can hunt and fish all the time while still playing hockey. You may want to come up to Alaska.’
Q : Do any of your seven kids play hockey?
A : All six boys have played hockey, the oldest is graduating. He played three years in Canada and then played at a Division 3 school in Minnesota. My second one played two years in Canada and he is just graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University, where he won the Division 2 men’s national club championship just about a month ago. … Our daughter is the only one who did not play hockey, although she probably would have been pretty darn good at it.