Penguins’ Andy Chiodo sees star rise in goalie coaching world
Up until recently, Andy Chiodo’s greatest claim to fame in NHL circles was probably something he did on a Wednesday night in February in Glendale, Ariz., 15 years ago.
As a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chiodo was the goalie who ended a team-record 18-game losing streak with a 28-save performance in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 25, 2004.
It’s not a bad calling card, really — many goalies are remembered for a goal they gave up, not a game they won — but these days, he’s working on building a reputation with a little more glory attached.
Chiodo, 36, is one of the hottest up-and-coming goalie coaches in the hockey world.
Three years ago, Chiodo crossed paths with Jordan Binnington while they ran in the same offseason goaltending camp circles in their native Ontario, and they became friends.
Working with Chiodo was part of Binnington’s commitment to more seriously developing his craft over the past two summers.
Binnington’s efforts turned him into one of hockey’s greatest success stories. After toiling in the ECHL and AHL for five-plus seasons, he burst onto the NHL scene with the St. Louis Blues just after New Year’s and led the team to its first Stanley Cup championship.
“He’s come a long way,” Chiodo said. “He’s a great example to a lot of goaltenders. Two years ago, which way was his career going to go? We had the opportunity to spend time together and really hit it off and have a mutual respect that was the foundation of our relationship.
“Two summers ago, we did some great work together and he worked really hard on his game, not only on the ice but off the ice, his life habits, his mental approach.”
Binnington capped off the rags-to-riches tale with a star-making 32-save performance in a Game 7 victory over the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
“To see him hoist the Stanley Cup, it was really special, and again, it was more learning for me, too, because I got to go on that journey with him in a limited capacity,” Chiodo said. “The way he responded in Game 7 was an example of the overall. He was able to respond after (losing) Game 6 and bring his best game in Game 7, and that’s kind of where he’s been the last couple years.”
While Binnington’s rise will do wonders for Chiodo’s reputation, the bulk of his work is done with young Penguins netminders as the team’s goaltending development coach.
Chiodo wears many hats. He helped scout goalies in preparation for the draft. He visited college goalies to try to convince them to come to the team’s development camp. He was instrumental in recommending the Penguins pursue Finnish free agent Emil Larmi, who signed in May.
During the year, Chiodo paid visits to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to work with Tristan Jarry as well as Saint John and Baie Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to work with prospect Alex D’Orio.
“I had the opportunity to kind of taste every aspect of the job,” Chiodo said. “There was a lot of learning for me. I loved it, more than I can tell you, and I think that I was able to do some decent work for the guys as well, so it was great.”
While working with Chiodo, D’Orio recognized the trait that might be the biggest reason the coach has been so effective making connections with young goaltenders.
Chiodo has seen pretty much everything in his hockey career.
He played with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers on his way up the ladder. He had successful playoff runs in juniors with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the Ontario Hockey League and especially with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL in 2004. After making it to the NHL, he finished his career by playing professionally in Finland, Russia and Austria.
No matter what situation a young goaltender finds himself in, there’s a good chance Chiodo has been there, done that.
“He knows what you’re going through and what it means to be a professional,” D’Orio said. “If I have a question, for sure he has a response.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .