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After a standout season with the Colorado College Tigers in the WCHA, Tom Preissing caught the eye of the San Jose Sharks, who signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2003 after he earned a liberal arts degree with a major in economics. Three hockey seasons later, Preissing has emerged as a solid offensive defenceman for the Ottawa Senators. sat down with the Arlington Heights, Ill., native to discuss his road to the NHL. How have you adjusted to life in Ottawa?

TP: I grew up in Minneapolis, Minn. and it’s pretty similar to Ottawa, culture-wise. The whole organization here has been great in accepting me. You made your NHL debut on October 11, 2003, with San Jose after signing as a free agent with the Sharks earlier that summer. Describe the feeling of playing your first game in the league against the Calgary Flames.

TP: It was incredible because of so many aspects. The crowd, playing in Canada, my first game, and the coaches’ confidence in playing me against one of the best players in the game. I was partnered with Scott Hannan, and we played against (Flames star Jarome Iginla’s line). During your final year in the WCHA as Colorado College’s team captain, you were nominated for the Hobey Baker Award after finishing first in the nation in scoring by defencemen with 52 points in 42 games. How does that season rank in your career so far?

TP: With that team in my senior year, that’s probably the highlight of my career. We weren’t supposed to do anything and we ended up as the best team in the nation for most of the year. It was fun to play in that environment. What advice do you have for student-athletes?

TP: Basically, those four or five years prepare you for your entire life. When you really think about it, four or five years isn’t that long in the grand scope of things. You should be able to figure out when to buckle down and when to let loose a little bit. You’re setting up for your future.
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