BostonBruins.com - There were times earlier in his career when Torey Krug was not sure how far hockey would take him. Playing in the National Hockey League was no guarantee.
Given that unpredictability, he knew garnering a strong education was vital.
"Originally, my plan was to go to law school after college because it was something that intrigued me," said Krug, who enrolled at Michigan State as a finance major and pre-law student in 2009. "I took a couple law classes that I enjoyed. Obviously, hockey - I didn't think it was going to go this far. But I've been lucky with my career that it's gone well and I continued to pursue that."
Krug went undrafted, but a strong career for the Spartans led him to a free-agent contract with the Bruins at the end of his junior season in the spring of 2012. The chance to accomplish his dream of playing in the NHL meant he would have to leave school and put his studies on hold - at least temporarily.
With the encouragement of his mother, Cheryl, Krug continued towards his degree by taking online courses from Boston. And now, some five years after leaving Michigan State for the Bruins, the 26-year-old can call himself not just an accomplished NHL defenseman, but a college graduate, too.
"I guess when you leave it's your decision to finish your degree or not. For me, my mom really wanted me to graduate. It was one of my promises to her that I would finish it," said Krug, who recently completed his credits towards a degree in political science.
"I had an advisor at Michigan State that took unbelievable care of me and making sure that I was on the right track to graduate and that I took all the right prerequisite classes and that I was taking care of all the requirements to graduate."
Krug changed his major from finance to political science and dropped his pre-law requirements, which were not available to be completed online.
"I was pretty good at math in high school, that was the easiest subject for me," said Krug, who graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. "I just didn't know what I wanted to get into it. I chose finance as a freshman and you really don't know what's going on your freshman year, it's kind of a whirlwind.
"You don't know exactly what type of classes that you want to take. It just was overwhelming taking a finance class and I just figured I'd take a couple history classes. It was easy to pay attention to and easy for me to follow. I enjoyed doing it and got along with the professors pretty well. That's the reason I got into political science."
Krug, who just wrapped up his sixth NHL season and set a career high in points with 51, admitted there were times along the way when it was hard to stay driven.
"I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't hard to get motivated," said Krug. "There were definitely some times that I just wanted to sit down and relax and not think about anything. To be honest, my job takes a lot out of me, mentally and emotionally. For me to have to sit down and take a class afterwards, it's tough.
"But at the same time, we have a lot of time on our hands to be able to get it done. It was definitely tough getting motivated at times, but also seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and realizing it was something I wanted to pursue, that helped me along the way."
Plus, Krug was looking to the future. While his hockey career still has a ways to go, he wanted to make sure he put himself in the best position he could to succeed when his playing days are over.
"I didn't just finish my degree to finish it," said Krug, who also credited his wife, Melanie, and father, Kyle, for their support. "I did it because hockey is going to end at some point and there's going to be something that I'm going to want to do - work and do something that requires a degree.
"I didn't realize it, but at Michigan State and a lot of other places, the coach there has to have a degree. If you want to be part of a management group, obviously it's going to help you in some way to have your degree."