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by Thomas LaRocca / Los Angeles Kings
New Kings defenseman Tom Preissing has been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his three-year NHL career, a streak he is planning on continuing in Los Angeles in 2007-08.

“I think the Kings are close,” Preissing told via telephone. “I am very excited about coming here to get to be able to play with guys like Rob Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky and all of the hoopla around Jack Johnson.

“I think it is a fun and exciting time in Los Angeles and hopefully we will be one of the more formidable D-corps in the league.”

Preissing should know, after all he was playing with one of the more talented bluelines in the NHL, playing with the likes of Chris Phillips, Wade Redden and Anton Volchenkov with the Eastern Conference Champion Ottawa Senators.

Interestingly, Preissing paced that blueline in assists (31), points (38) and plus/minus (40). Preissing's +40 rating finished tied for first amongst NHL defensemen with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, ranking third overall in the NHL behind Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and (+47) and the Senators Daniel Alfredsson (+42).

“I would consider myself a mid-range offensive defensemen,” Preissing said. “I like to join the rush and be involved in the offense, but at the same time, I am not going to lose my defensive position.

“I would say I am an offensive defenseman, but I pride myself in my defensive ability.”

An interesting quote from a guy that started his hockey career as a forward before making the move to rearguard in the USHL during the 1998-99 season.

“My career was never one that was destined to play in the NHL,” the 28-year-old defenseman said. “If I would have kept on playing forward, I could have maybe played DIII hockey. Then I was given the opportunity to move back to defense and from there I flourished.

“If there is one thing I can point to in my career that was the turning point, it was that.”

He finished with 18 goals and 37 assists for 55 points in 53 games with Green Bay that year, earning a scholarship to Colorado College, become teammates with Noah Clarke, a name Kings fans are familiar with.

His senior year he was a Hobey Baker Finalist (losing out to Colorado teammate Peter Sejna) after scoring 23-29=52, before signing as an undrafted free agent with the San Jose Sharks on April 4, 2003.

He made the leap to the NHL the following year, being the Sharks rookie of the year for the 2003-04 season.

In 2005-06, he led San Jose blueliners in goals (11), assists (32) and points (43), the second-highest-scoring season by a defenseman in Sharks history (Sandis Ozolinsh, 26-38=64 in 1993-94).

This past offseason he was involved in a three-way deal that landed Mark Bell in San Jose, Martin Havlat in Chicago and himself in Ottawa for the 2006-07 season, a season that ended in the Stanley Cup Finals, losing four games to one to the Ducks.

“Making it as far as we did with Ottawa and then getting crushed like that, it gives me a lot of motivation every time I play them,” he said.

Being Pacific Division Rivals, he will see the Ducks eight times each season here in Los Angeles, his new home.

“I have grown up in cold weather my whole life, it is amazing how quickly you get acclimated to warm weather. L.A. was at the top of the list and just for the organization to show the kind of confidence in me that they did, it really made it all the better.”

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