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#AskTCR Mailbag: The Hockey Pipe Dream


Go Blackhawks
Go Blackhawks

The Mailbag has returned to you, but for the first time in its history there will be no questions about whether or not Wes Lunt is going to transfer to Illinois. No, from now on all Lunt questions will be about what he's going to do at Illinois.

It's an important transition in a Mailbag's life.

Anyway, if you need a refresher before we get to the questions, this is how you can have your question answered in the #AskTCR Mailbag.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

And now, the questions.

So what's it going to take to get a D1 hockey team around here? Illinois has a top notch club team that's about as close as you can get, but we need to step up and join the newly formed big ten hockey league. There previously weren't enough teams, but they now have enough with Penn State recently joining.

Did you know The state of Illinois is fifth in the country in producing D1 players but has no team of its own? Our players go to teams like Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

I realize it would likely take some hefty donations. But do you think it's even on the radar? - Steve

Though I haven't devoted a whole lot of time to this idea on the site, I have had a Twitter rant or two about it in the last few months. I love hockey. When I was in Champaign I would go to some of those club games. I would absolutely love for Illinois to have a scholarship hockey program in the Big Ten's new hockey conference because, like you said, there's a lot of hockey talent in this state, and if the club team is any indication, I think hockey would be a sport Illinois would excel at.

It's just I don't think it's going to happen. Hockey is a very expensive sport to support, and if Illinois did start a hockey program it would have to get rid of another men's sport or add another women's sport. Which only adds to the cost and reduces the chances of it happening.

If Illinois is going to add any sport to join a new Big Ten conference, I'd say it'll be lacrosse since the Big Ten is adding both men's and women's. Lacrosse is much cheaper than hockey, and if Illinois does add a lacrosse team, I'd pay attention to it. I mean, I don't know a lot about lacrosse, but from what I've watched it kind of seems like hockey on grass.

It's going to hurt a little bit, I won't lie. But to be honest, I don't think it should be that bad. You see, when I moved down to Champaign the Illini went 10-2 and went to the Sugar Bowl my first season. It was awesome. Then the next season came, and I was all pumped up for another good year, and the Illini went 5-7. The next year they went 1-11.

So what I'm saying is that you obviously have no expectations, so you can't be hurt, only pleasantly surprised. Where as I had to sit there and watch them lose to fucking San Jose State at home that next year and watch as that ridiculous home loss turned out to be the one that kept the team from becoming bowl eligible.

I definitely think it's possible, though I can't be sure. I do know that Mike Thomas really wants to make a larger impact in Chicago, and playing games there would definitely be a way to do that. Also, if home attendance continues to suffer the way it did in 2012, I'd definitely expect to see more games scheduled in Chicago. Maybe if the Mizzou series is rekindled they work a deal where the game alternates between St. Louis and Chicago?

As I wrote about earlier this week, I don't think it guarantees Beckman a third year, but I definitely think it cools Beckman's seat a bit. But if the Illini have another terrible season on the field and don't show any improvement, Lunt isn't going to save Beckman's job.

Why would you want to waste a match on Northwestern?

I'm no NBA scout and I can't tell you exactly what they're looking for, but I'm pretty sure it's because Deshaun Thomas right now is who Deshaun Thomas will still be in five years. And while he was able to get away playing the four in college, he won't be able to do so with his size in the NBA. So essentially he becomes a three with good size, but not the ideal athleticism NBA teams would like to see on the wing.

Plus Deshaun is something of a one-tool player. He's not the best defender in the world, he's just a scorer. So while he has a role in the NBA, that role is going to be guy off the bench who can come in and get you some points, but that's about it. And no NBA team is going to use a high first round pick on somebody with such a limited ceiling.

Though that doesn't mean Thomas can't prove everybody wrong.

Then you have guys like Oladipo and Burke who have all the athleticism you look for and the ability to expand their games even further. I don't think Oladipo has scratched the surface of the player he can be, and Burke plays the most important position in the NBA game right now.

As for Zeller, he's big. That's it. NBA teams are forever searching for size that's not only size, but size that might be talented too. And while Zeller has talent -- DON'T TELL ANYBODY I SAID THAT -- the fact is he also has T-Rex arms and he'll forever be tortured by NBA big men and will probably end up as a serviceable NBA player, but not one that should have been drafted as early as he'll be drafted.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.