The Carolina Hurricanes wanted to get bigger and more physical this summer. Who was at the top of their short list of free agent targets? None other than Tom Kostopoulos.
The feisty forward, who is listed at 6'0 200, was second on the Montreal Canadiens last season with 167 hits. He also chipped in with 8 goals and 14 assists, but the Canes won't be pressing him for much more scoring. He'll be on the fourth line, raising havoc with whomever else Paul Maurice puts there. (Probably Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle.)
Kostopoulos was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999. The right winger signed a free agent contract with Los Angeles in 2005, then signed another free agent contract with Montreal in 2007. This summer, Carolina signed him to a three year deal which averages about $916,000 per year.
I had the opportunity to speak with "TK" recently and he was nice enough to answer a few questions.
CC: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
TK: Probably my first trip to the playoffs, with Montreal. Beating Boston in game seven. That was pretty good.
CC: Can you describe your game? What can fans expect to see from you?
TK: Hard work, nothing flashy. Just working hard every night and finishing checks and trying to be consistent.
CC: Who has been the most influential coach in your career?
TK: Geez, I have had quite a few. But Mike Yeo, assistant coach for Pittsburgh right now is one. He worked with me a lot when I was in the Pittsburgh organization. (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) I was in the organization for five years and he worked with me the entire time to help me improve my game.
CC: Do you have a piece of equipment that you are most fussy with?
TK: My shoulders pads are old. I have had them awhile.
CC: What is your favorite off-ice workout?
TK: (pause).. Pete Friesen's five mile stationary bike ride. That was a lot of fun the other day.
CC: What's your favorite sport other than hockey?
TK: I like soccer.
CC: So you'll be kicking the ball around with the group before games?
TK: Yeah, but I'm not very good at that. (chuckles)
CC: Why number 29?
TK: That was my brother's number, I just copied him.
CC: and your favorite beer?