A Hero Returns to North America

Huge, huge news for Baby Pens fans coming from Jonathan Bombulie over at the Penguins Insider. Word on the street is that Andy Chiodo is about to sign with the Binghamton Senators. Yes, THEE Andy Chiodo. This one:

Yes, the Andy Chiodo who watched every other goalie get a shot at playoff games before he had to come in and save the day. And I mean, literally save the day. The guy who became a hero in WBS. The guy who survived by working hard, not just on pure skill.

There are certain players that Baby Pens' fans will never forget. The list starts like this: 1. Dennis Bonvie 2. Andy Chiodo. You can argue that John Slaney and Tom Kostopoulos might come before Chiodo. I put them after.

And now he's back. Not with the Baby Pens unfortunately, but with a team close enough that he'll be playing in the Wachovia Arena a handful of times during the season.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Chiodo, he was a Baby Pen for three seasons. He was typically the back-up, and his regular season numbers were good -- nothing spectacular but not bad. He even saw action in eight games for Pittsburgh. His moment of glory came during the playoffs. My God was he a playoff goaltender. Maybe the best I've ever seen.

In the 2004 Calder Cup playoffs, WBS faced Bridgeport in the first round. Michel Therrien gave both Marc-Andre Fleury and Sebastien Caron a shot before Chiodo. The Pens went down 3-games-to-1. Therrien decided to give Chiodo a shot, and magic happened. WBS won that series in OT of Game 7 -- after Chiodo made some heart-stopping (seriously, I think my heart stopped) saves throughout the series. They went all the way to the finals that year. They lost, but it was still a great ride.

The same thing happened in the postseason the following year. Chiodo didn't get the initial start, but he ended up on top. The Baby Pens defeated a stacked Binghamton Sens team (we're talking Spezza, Vermette, etc) in the first round. He was so much fun to watch, and he earned every bit of recognition and praise he got. Unfortunately, no one else gave him a shot after his third year here. He packed up and headed to Finland.

Bombulie mentions the response he'll receive when he returns to Wilkes-Barre. He thinks it will be lukewarm because people forget. This is true. People do forget. But those that saw him play through those playoff series will not. And they will be on their feet when he steps out on that ice.

Welcome back Chico.


Pens Sign Johnson

Pittsburgh went ahead and signed goaltender Brent Johnson to a one-year, one-way contract. Decent signing. The Pens needed a back-up, and he's a back-up. I'm not sure I have much more to say on that front. It's about exciting to me as the headline I went with.

Seth Rorabaugh over at the Post-Gazette mentioned Johnson being "solid insurance should the unproven John Curry not be up to the task of being Fleury's backup next season," but I think the signing counts Curry out altogether. Johnson signed a one-way. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure how good Pitt would feel about paying an NHL contract at the AHL level. No organization is a huge fan of doing that. It's happened before, and it can happen again, but I think Curry is looking at another year in the A. Then again, he has surprised people his whole life. He could have a stellar camp and win the spot.

I like Johnson. Nothing against him. I'm protective over Curry (as you all know already), and I was hoping he'd get a solid chance at the back-up spot next year. But you know what? Another year will be good for him. I actually think it'd be better. He can really fine tune his game and work out some kinks.



Good For Some Laughs

The Two-Line Pass over at Puck Daddy just had me laughing with this week's What We Learned post. I thought it was worth noting. Especially with:

Evander Kane was apparently a beast at Thrashers rookie camp this weekend. He scored in the first scrimmage of the weekend, had the lowest body fat (4.1 percent), won the push-up contest and (55) but only came in second during fastest skater. Which means this draft was another total failure. Way to go, Waddell.

The Handsomest Man in Hockey, Colin Wilson, will probably start his pro career in the AHL. No shock there.
Okay, so I didn't laugh at this. But it is true: he IS the handsomest man in hockey.

The Flames got their new enforcer: Brian McGrattan(notes). I believe this brings Calgary's total number of Edmonton natives and former Coyotes and/or Panthers to an even 600.

Check out the post for more laughs ... because it's all true.


AHL Division Realignment

The AHL released its division realignments today. The East Division (arguably one of the top two divisions year in and year out) will now look like this:

Adirondack Phantoms
Albany River Rats
Binghamton Senators
Hershey Bears
Norfolk Admirals
Syracuse Crunch
WBS Penguins

They moved Bridgeport out of the East and stuck them in the Atlantic with teams like Worcester, Providence and Hartford. I'll miss the Sound Tigers being in the East; a mini rivalry has developed between them and the Pens after some unreal playoff battles between the two. Then again, they're usually a pretty good team. Maybe I won't miss them that much.

Syracuse is moved in. This makes sense. They've been in the Western Conference for the past few seasons, and it seemed silly since they're only an hour and a half up Interstate 81 from WBS.

Barack <3's Ovechkin

President Obama thanked Russia for Alexander Ovechkin during his trip to Putin Land. This is despite never having been to a Caps game. Maybe his next foreign policy move will be to repair relations between the NHL & KHL.


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