By Will Beekman
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It’s 10:30 in the morning, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are gearing up for a routine day of practice. The usual sounds can be heard. The weights in the weight room, the TV in the TV room and the lockers in the locker room all tell a familiar story.
But just across the hall there is an unfamiliar sight and sound.
Tournament Room A sits adjacent to the Pens’ locker room. For the most part, it is only used during training camp when there is an overflow of hopeful bodies looking to earn a spot across the hall.
The stalls aren’t nearly as decorated, no nameplates or pictures of family members. On this particular day, the room is almost as empty as always, except for one small oddity.
Walk through the doorway and make a hard left. There sits Andy Chiodo, lacing up his skates, pounding on his goalie pads and gingerly awaiting a light workout. His sore knee limits his movements, but the sight is enough to make one thing perfectly clear.
This season has not gone according to plan.
After turning in 27 wins during his 2003-04 rookie effort – nine of which came during a memorable playoff run – the native of Toronto had just four victories over the first half of 2004-05. Little was going his way and almost everything had changed – except for two key elements. He could still do no wrong in the eyes of Penguins fans, and his usual confidence had not yet wavered.
“I’ve always demanded a lot out of myself,” Chiodo said, “and you always want to be the best you can be every single day and have great results. So far, the results haven’t been great, but I truly believe that there’s a long way to go this year. I saw last year how long the playoffs are and how long the second half is. My focus isn’t on what has happened. My focus is on the next 40 games and the playoffs. I still truly believe that great things will come out of this year.”
But considering how well he finished last season, Chiodo can’t help but think that the good times should have been a little less fleeting in this year.