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Tom Kostopoulos, Andy Chiodo start coaching careers with Penguins

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Penguins forward Tom Kostopoulos skates against the New York Rangers on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

As he begins his new career as a player development coach in the Penguins organization, Tom Kostopoulos already has a pretty impressive line on his resume.

He was Jake Guentzel’s first professional linemate with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the end of the 2015-16 season.

“I think he put two years on my career,” jokes Kostopoulos, who retired last month at age 39. “I was ready to hang ‘em up and he and Carter Rowney got me thinking, ‘Maybe I can still play.’

“He’s one of a kind. He’s probably the best hockey player I’ve played with in the American Hockey League. You could tell very quickly that he was too good for that league. We’d joke every day that it was his last AHL game. He was awesome. The way he turns it up in playoffs has been amazing to see.”

While helping to oversee Penguins development camp this week is Kostopoulos’ first official duty in his new role, helping along young players has been a part of his duties for the past five seasons as captain of the Baby Pens.

Having played 600 games in the NHL and 600 games in the AHL in his career, Kostopoulos has seen a lot.

“I think I can relate to almost anything a player’s going go through in his career, whether he’s being scratched or bumped up a line or traded,” Kostopoulos said. “Wherever he is on the depth chart, at one time in my career or another, I’ve been there and I can relate with them.

“Part of my role will be talking to kids who are out of the lineup and working their way back in, someone who’s lost their confidence. I’ve been through that and I’ve had coaches that have helped me through it. I’m hoping I can help them through it.”

Kostopoulos is joined on the player development staff by Andy Chiodo, the former Penguins goalie who is in his second year of retirement. In his first year away from the game, he worked with goaltenders in the OHL and started a media career in the Toronto area.

He decided mentoring young goalies was the direction he wanted to take. For the Penguins, he’ll work with prospects in Wilkes-Barre and perhaps take on some scouting duties.

“It’s building their professionalism, their daily habits, their routines, their mindset for the game, their technique on the ice,” Chiodo said. “It’s a whole bunch of different moving parts.”

Among Penguins fans, Chiodo is probably best known as the goalie who stopped the infamous 18-game winless streak with a 3-2 overtime win over Arizona in 2004.

“We found a way to win and it was a nice feeling because I think the group deserved that,” Chiodo said. “I was happy to be a part of it.”

Chiodo was also part of the same rookie class as fellow goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003.

“It’s amazing. He’s that same person,” Chiodo said. “He was full of energy, full of life, always smiling, worked incredibly hard. At that time, he was so fast and so agile. He hadn’t reigned it all in yet. He started to. To see where he is today, I’m happy for him. He’s had an amazing career.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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