Saturday, July 31, 2010

RICK PRESTON


Taken from Joe Pelletier - WebSite
- Greatest Hockey Legends

Blue - added - by Ron "Scoreboard" Johnston -

Rich Preston was a fantastic defensive forward during the 1980s with Chicago, also spending 2 seasons in New Jersey. He was also a standout in the WHA.

Preston was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, His father was Ken Preston who played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Team in the 1940's. Ken was also the General Manager of the team in the 1970's. Rich started his hockey career with the Regina Pats in 1969-70. Went onto the University of Denver before turning professional with Houston of the WHA, citing the chance to play with Gordie Howe as his main reason for opting to jump to the WHA. It was with Houston that he first formed a dynamic partnership with center Terry Ruskowski. (Photo: Regina Pats Hockey Club)

In the final season of the WHA, Ruskowski and Preston joined the Winnipeg Jets, and lead the team to the Avco Cup championship. Preston, with 8 goals in 10 playoff games, was named as the post-season MVP.

When the WHA collapsed in 1979, Preston joined the Chicago Blackhawks.

"When the merger talks (between the WHA and NHL) cropped up last season, four or five teams were interested in me, and I was a free agent, so I could talk with them. I signed with Chicago because I like the city, and I know Cliff Koroll and Keith Magnuson from Denver. We all went to college there, and that meant something to me."

Preston will always be remembered in Chicago as a member of the RPM Line with Grant Mulvey and Ruskowski.

The RPM Line was a very close knit trio, both on and off the ice. Ruskowski and Preston had played together in both Houston and Winnipeg, and Mulvey complimented them nicely.

"Grant Mulvey set himself in a position where he could just one-time it. We worked on it a long time; just passing and one timing it. He was a goal scorer. I passed it to him and he put the biscuit in the basket as we say. Preston was great in the corners. He had very strong legs and a strong upper body. He really dug the puck out. So, it was a combination of three people doing what they do best," explained Ruskowski,

Preston immediately stepped into a Chicago lineup and scored 31 goals and 61 points, turning many heads.

As the Blackhawks team got stronger over the coming couple of seasons, Preston was relegated more to a defensive role, a role which he enthusiastically took on and excelled at. He was a student of the game and had a good understanding of any situation on the ice. He was a key penalty killer for Chicago as well.

An aggressive player despite an average build, Preston was excellent in the corners, a poor man's John Tonelli. Preston was also a super team guy in the dressing room as well. He had a contagious attitude. His up beat and positive attitude helped young players and other veterans alike.

He left the NHL after the 1987 season. Coached the Regina Pats from 1995 to 1997. Preston served as an assistant coach for the Calgary Flames from the 2003-2004 NHL season until just after the 2008-2009 NHL season. Shortly after his dismissal from the Flames, Preston was hired as the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach and general manager.