Like most kids growing up, Tim Preston dreamed of playing in the NHL.
Preston went through the ranks of the Langley Minor Hockey Association and at age 16, he left home to join the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds and finished his junior career with the Saskatoon Blades.
The left-winger showed enough that the Buffalo Sabres chose him in the third round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
Preston attended a couple of training camps with the Sabres, but never stuck.
But when the time came to make a decision to pursue that goal further, Preston chose family.
After just a few professional games with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers in 2002, at the age of 21, he hung up his skates.
“For me, it was easy (to walk away),” he said.
“The reason I left was I wanted to create more of a family environment for (my son), more of a home structure.
“Playing (in the minors) is not always ideal for trying to raise a family.
“I kind of felt I wanted to put some roots down and start a business and the next chapter in my life.”
With a young son, Carson, Preston knew he needed to take care of his family.
Wanting to stay involved in the sport he loves, Preston began by coaching his son’s teams with Langley Minor Hockey and then started working with the association on its player development.
Enjoying that, he formed Impact Hockey Development, which focuses on player development on and off the ice. He runs the business with another local former junior hockey player, Tyler Chambers.
Preston does the on-ice training, while Chambers focuses on the off-ice development portion of the program.
They have a training facility at Newlands for dryland training, both during the season, and off-season.
And while Preston may miss playing at a high level, he fills that competitive void through helping others.
“I get fulfillment through working with the young players now,” he explained.
“My focus is on trying to help a young player achieve his goals.”
Working with players ranging in age from youth to pro, Preston’s work apparently caught the eye of the Vancouver Canucks.
They contacted him in the spring and he spent the summer working with the NHL team’s prospects.
He also did some informal workouts with the Canuck veterans, who were skating earlier this month at UBC in preparation for their upcoming training camp.
“It was a great experience and I loved it,” Preston said.
“I am totally happy to have had that opportunity.”
Preston, now 30, is also still in the coaching ranks, both as an assistant with the junior B Aldergrove Kodiaks, as well as with 10-year-old Carson’s atom team in the Langley Minor Hockey Association.
Most of his free time is spent at the hockey rink, which can be tough with young kids. He also has a daughter, Peyton, who is almost one.
“I feel fortunate that my work life is still my passion and I am able to stay really involved with hockey,” he said.
Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Tim Preston instructs his son Carson at the Langley Twin Rinks on Friday afternoon. Preston runs Impact Hockey Development and also did some work with the Vancouver Canucks prospects this past summer.