The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced Wednesday that former players Tom Kostopoulos and Andy Chiodo were hired to Pittsburgh’s player development staff, joining current director of player development Scott Young and player development coach Jarrod Skalde.
Kostopoulos, 39, the five-time captain of the Baby Pens and sweetheart of the AHL team’s fanbase, will be working as a player development coach, while Chiodo, 35, will be utilized in the goaltending department, assisting in their development as well.
Kostopoulos is just coming off his final season as a professional player, where he racked up 1,468 combined NHL and AHL playoff and regular season games, a Wilkes-Barre Scranton record for games played, in his 19-year-long hockey career. He is also the owner of all-time leader in several major statistics, including goals (187), assists (282), and points (469). Kostopoulos is one of only four players in hockey history to log 600 total games at both the NHL and AHL level.
The Penguins said they owe a lot of their gratitude to the leadership of Kostopoulis down in the AHL level, as he was instrumental to assimilating several of the “Black Aces” that made the jump to the NHL to assist in winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. Guys like Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Brian Dumoulin, Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, and Tom Kuhnackl. That group talent alone is an easy indicator to why the Penguins’ organization celebrates his impact on the team as a whole and why they wanted to keep him around for the foreseeable future.
Chiodo got his first big break in the NHL when the Penguins selected him in the seventh round (199th overall) in the 2003 Draft, where he only saw top-level ice time in that following season. His first win snapped a Penguins’ record of an 18-game winless stretch and his 3-4-1 record in eight games was a contributing factor in the 12-5-3 run Pittsburgh went on to close the season. This was massive, as the Penguins only won 11 of their first 62 games. That initial win for him sparked a big turnaround for the franchise that year. But it can’t really be overstated how beloved Chiodo is in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He was at his best in playoffs, when he backstopped the Penguins to their Finals run in 2004 and pounded down Antero Niittymaki in a fight following a home game against the then-Philadelphia Phantoms.
Both of these players will undoubtedly bring a ton of experience, guidance, and hockey knowledge to the development program. It’s a great move by the higher-ups of the team to keep two huge faces in Penguins’ history within the program for years to come — I’m sure fans and current players alike will definitely agree.