Carolina Hurricanes winger, Tom Kostopoulos. (Photo by LTD)
A couple of weeks ago, we started a new feature here at Canes Country called "Fans Want To Know". This special feature gives fans the opportunity to submit their own questions to be asked to selected players. The first player we targeted was youngster, Jamie McBain. In case you missed it, you can check out the questions submitted for him as well as his responses here.
Our next featured player is Tom Kostopoulos, the veteran forward who signed a three year deal with Carolina last offseason. I was able to meet with him after the morning skate last week Thursday. Even though the popular ex-Canadien had a couple of interviews with the Montreal press before speaking with me, he didn't seem to mind me pestering him for a few more minutes and it was a very enjoyable interview.
Thanks again to those of you who submitted questions. And of course a big thank you to Kostopoulos for his candor and his time.
What is on your iPod. What kind of music do you like?
A little bit of everything. Mostly rock, classic rock, and alternative. But I‘ll listen to anything.
What NHL player from the past would you skate with if you had the chance?
Growing up I was a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and I was a huge Wendel Clark fan. Everything he did, I tried to do. So that would be Wendel Clark.
Who is your roommate on the road?
Brian Pothier. He’s a real good guy and takes care of me, but he won’t let me have the remote control.
What’s your nickname?
What is your favorite thing to do in Raleigh when you’re not at the rink?
Probably go to the Marbles Museum with my kids. We love it there. It’s a pretty impressive place.
You lead the team with 10 fighting majors, but you are not one of the biggest guys in the league. What is going through your mind when you drop the gloves with someone who is bigger than you are, or someone who might be considered a better fighter?
Sometimes you try to do different things to help give your team an edge in the game. For me, a lot of the fights I don’t end up winning, it’s more about showing up. It’s about showing your team that you’re willing to do it and just trying to give them a jump. You know, if I could score 50 goals, I probably wouldn’t be fighting. (laughs), but you just try to help your team out anyway you can.
With your favorite movie being "Rocky", do you enjoy fighting? How do you go about practicing or improving?
I don’t know, I don’t practice too much, I’m not that good at it. I don’t necessarily like it. I like "Rocky" the movie more because of the story. It’s just one of those things where you can goof around with teammates on the ice and practice and wrestle a bit. When I played in Montreal, Georges Laraque would show me different things. But when you are out there, things happen at the spur of the moment and heat of the moment, and sometimes you don’t even remember what happened out there. (chuckles).
Who do you think is the most intimidating player in the NHL?
What is your favorite road arena and favorite city to visit?
Montreal and the Bell Centre. The atmosphere is one of a kind. If any fans get a chance to go there and watch a game, it’s a great place to go and experience the atmosphere. Plus the downtown is really nice too.
What do you miss the most about Montreal?
Probably my teammates. I really liked the guys I played with back there. They were a bunch of great guys, so yeah, I miss them a lot.
When you retire, do you have any idea what you would like to do?
I want my wife to work so I can be a stay-at-home Dad. (laughs) But if she doesn’t go for that, I don’t know. I might try to go back to school and finish my education. I wouldn’t mind being a teacher. But I haven’t thought too much about it. I’m not really sure what I will do.
Do you have any specific vacation plans this summer?
Nothing too crazy. We have heard a lot about the coast. Everyone in Raleigh has been telling us that if we drive a couple of hours east, there are some nice beaches there, so we’re going to check that out. But nothing huge.
You’re known as a practical joker. What’s the best joke you have pulled in this room and on who?
I haven’t really done much in here. Although I do get the blame a lot. I get more blame for stuff than what I actually do. One lunch, Erik Cole "lost" his dress shirt and had to walk back to his room without his shirt and I got blamed for it. And I’m not saying if I did it or not, (smiling).
Has anyone gotten you back?
Oh yeah, Cole keeps taking my hockey socks before practice. I’m always having to go to the back room to get socks because he takes them. Just little goofy stuff like that.
Having played for other markets, is there anything that surprised you about this market, or about playing for the Hurricanes in particular?
I was really surprised and impressed with the fans. I wasn’t sure what to expect when coming here, but I mean this franchise really has a great fanbase. All the guys were telling me that in the playoffs, it even gets to another level. They told me that on a couple of runs they have been on, it’s unbelievable.
Going through that 14 game losing streak we did? I thought that the fans would give up on the team and we would be booed every night and people would stop coming and everyone would be negative. But I was talking to people around town and they were still positive. They knew we were going through a tough time and we would pull through. That was very encouraging for the team. To see them still come out to the games and support the team was really impressive and I think that was the biggest key for us to be able to turn things around the second half this year.
During that 14 game losing streak, how tough was that in the room? Did any particular players step up and try to take a leadership role?
The more you dwell on a losing streak and talk about it, the bigger issue it can become, so it's better to treat each game separately. We would chat it up on the bench to pick each other up after bad things happened on the ice and just tried to keep positive, but it was a tough time. But like I said before, the fans really helped us through it.
How did you get into ballroom dancing?
Ballroom dancing? (laughs) The problem is, I’m not that good of a dancer, but I think I am. So I tend to find that I’m out there making a fool of myself. I’m really not that much into ballroom dancing but yeah, I like to do other styles.
You’re known for a very strong off ice work ethic. Did that come naturally, or did you learn that from someone at some point in your career?
My older brother always pushed me to work hard. I was always chasing him, to catch up with him, to compete with him. And I was lucky to start my career playing with several good older role models that showed me the way. I mean, to stay in this league and compete in this league and keep my job….. I’m not the most skilled guy so I have to work hard everyday and every shift.
That actually ties in with the next question. Your brother Chris is a coach, does he ever try to give you tips, or vice versa?
Oh yeah, I talk to him, probably after every couple of games or so. He watches as many as he can and he tells me what he thinks. Yes, he’s probably been the most influential person of my career. He’s always critiquing me in a nice way, to help me be a better player and a better person, for that matter.