Preston ready to sink old ship

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:40 PM ET


 Like his boss, Rich Preston has a reason to want revenge.

 Preston was terminated in the Sharks front-office cleaning that pushed Darryl Sutter out of San Jose a year-and-a-half ago, so he will also have the opportunity to exact some retribution with the upcoming Western Conference final.

 But the Calgary assistant coach isn't looking at it that way.

 To Preston, an assistant under Sutter when the Sharks' axe fell in early December 2002, the memories from two-and-a-half seasons spent in the Bay Area should remain where they are.

 They won't be used for motivation at this point.

 "You live in the present at this time of year," Preston said. "You can't talk about the past because the next game is the most important.

 "I don't think about it, especially now. It's not my focus."

 Preston's focus will be the Sharks but in a different manner. He'll help develop the Flames gameplan to upend the Pacific Division champs.

 He'll be working with the special teams, helping devise a way to beat San Jose's excellent penalty killers and looking for the right combination to prevent their snipers from tallying on the powerplay.

 His old pals in San Jose are now the opposition and nothing more.

 "They're one of four teams left and we've got to beat them. That's the bottom line," Preston said. "They've come this far and have a good team. Obviously, their goaltending is good, they have a good top-four defence and speed and scoring up front. This is a challenge for us."

 A challenge in which he and Sutter could have a little advantage.

 Having spent so much time guiding the Sharks -- Sutter was head coach for five-plus seasons -- Calgary's coaching staff has an extensive knowledge of so many players' strengths and weaknesses.

 Preston, though, doesn't see it as a big deal.

 "You know them pretty well because you coached them but we played them four times (this season) and everybody has a pretty good handle on each other," he said. "Knowing them isn't worth a hill of beans. It's more about outworking them."

 Besides, the Flames are worrying about their own play.

 "Look at the way we played Detroit and Vancouver. It's not going to change," he said. "We've talked about that from day one. We're more concerned about how we play, how we can play. Our focus is on our team."


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