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.



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