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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Kostopoulos Brings Character, Grit

Wednesday, 07.15.2009 / 11:41 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Kostopoulos Brings Character, Grit
When Hurricanes management said that it wanted the team to add some size and toughness over the summer, it wasn’t kidding.

Paul Branecky
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What started at the draft and was followed by a few depth additions last week continued with the signing of former Montreal Canadiens winger Tom Kostopoulos on Tuesday. Kostopoulos’ 106 penalty minutes in 2008-09 were 27 more than any Hurricanes player recorded last season and also marked the third time he’s broken triple digits in that category in five full NHL seasons.

Kostopoulos is a guy that we’ve liked for a long time,” said Jason Karmanos, the Hurricanes’ vice president and assistant general manager. “Our scouts have tracked his career, and he’s definitely a character guy and a versatile guy. He’s the type of guy you need on any winning team, and we’re excited to have him.”

“I’m a good defensive player who can chip in every now and then offensively, and I know they’re going to ask me to bring that physical play as well,” said Kostopoulos.

Besides the physical element, Kostopoulos, 30, was known in Montreal for his outstanding work ethic and willingness to drive to the net. 

“I try to base my game on hard work,” he said. “I don’t do anything flashy. I play hard along the boards and do whatever is asked of me to help the team win.”

That attitude earned him the nickname “Nonstopoulos” from his coach in junior hockey – a moniker that has occasionally popped up throughout his career, including his time with a typically unforgiving fan base in Montreal.

“They usually get on the superstars a little more, so a hard-working guy like myself was usually OK,” he said with a laugh. “It was a really fun place to play.”

Kostopoulos said he was drawn to the Carolina organization for its league-wide reputation for fielding a tenacious team on the ice and for how well it treats its players. He also had encouraging conversations with former Los Angeles teammates Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason, as well as former Hurricane Jeff O’Neill.

“Even before that you always heard things around the league about how well they treat their players,” he said. “I’ve never heard a bad word about the city or the organization.”

Kostopoulos was also pleased with the Hurricanes’ clear desire to add him to the fold, saying that his agent received a call from Carolina in the infant stages of the unrestricted free agency period.

“One of the big points for me is that they called around 12:01 on July 1,” he said. “It’s not always a money thing. Sometimes it’s about who shows the most interest right away.”

For now, Kostopoulos seems set to take over the roster spot held by Ryan Bayda last season, marking the only change among the team’s top 12 forwards thus far. Bayda remains an unrestricted free agent, with a two-way contract from the Hurricanes still available if he chooses to accept it.

He bounces between the third and fourth line and kills penalties,” said Karmanos of Kostopoulos. “He’s a guy that at times can play a larger role and can take on more minutes. He can play in that checking line role as an agitator who gets in on the forecheck, and the good thing is that he’s got the ability to bump up in the lines at times when we need him to.”

The Kostopoulos signing would seem to increase the team’s depth at forward from a season ago, which makes the move a little surprising when considering the more pressing needs on defense following the departures of Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg.

Filling those holes remains the top priority, as negotiations with a few remaining free agents, including Seidenberg, are ongoing.

“We’ve got a couple of players that we’re talking to now, and if those came through we pretty much feel that would fill out our defense,” said Karmanos.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45