Two memorable London Knights alumni have settled in for 2013-14. One is returning to his roots in the American Hockey League and the other is breaking away from the AHL to play in Austria. David Meckler leaves the Manchester Monarchs, the only pro team he has ever called home, and heads to Salzburg to play for the Red Bull. Tom Kostopoulos, a veteran of over 600 NHL regular season games has signed an AHL contract with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, the team who gave him his start in pro hockey over a decade ago.
Meckler played just one year in the Ontario Hockey League, 2006-07, after playing with Yale the year before. Over 67 regular season games, David scored 38 and assisted on 35 for 73 points. Great numbers for a player without Patrick Kane, Sergei Kostitsyn, Sam Gagner and A.J. Perry on the team.
Meckler finished fifth for points during the regular season but shone bright in the post season. London fell in the Western Conference finals to the Plymouth Whalers in five games. However, Meckler’s 15 goals in 16 games was enough to make him the goal scoring leader in the Robertson Cup playoffs.
David came to the OHL already a prospect of the Los Angeles Kings. L.A. took him in the fifth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 134th overall. For the past six years, Meckler has played exclusively with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. Over 381 regular season games in the league, David scored 77 and assisted on 67 for 144 points. He also contributed seven points over 33 Calder Cup playoff games.
David has signed with EC Salzburg Red Bull of Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) for 2013-14. He joins fellow OHL grad Evan Brophey on the team that won EBEL championships in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The most underrated hard working forward in hockey, Kostopoulos played three years with the London Knights from 1996-97 to 1998-99. Tom was a second round pick of the Knights at the 1996 OHL Priority Selection, 18th overall. He played an integral role in the resurgence of the franchise after their CHL record breaking 1995-96 season of futility.
In his final year, 1998-99, Tom scored 27 and assisted on 60 for 87 points over 66 regular season games. He led the team with his 60 assists and was second in points behind Jay Legeault. Over 25 playoff games, Kostopoulos led the Knights with 19 goals and 35 points as the team reached the Robertson Cup finals before falling to the Belleville Bulls in seven games.
At the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Tom was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh round, 204th overall. He has played pro since 1999-00 in the AHL and NHL. In the NHL, Kostopoulos has played 630 regular season games, totalling 157 points with the Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils.
In the AHL, Tom’s first game of the 2013-14 season will be his 400th of his career. He has 125 goals and 199 assists for 324 points over those 399 games. With exception of 2004-05 when he played for the Manchester Monarchs, Kostopoulos has played all his AHL hockey with the WBS Pens. However, that 2004-05 season was his career high for points in pro hockey with 71.
During that NHL lockout season, Tom finished third on the Monarchs behind Mike Cammalleri and Dustin Brown. The team was coached by Bruce Boudreau. In typical Boudreau fashion, Manchester finished second overall in the American Hockey League during the regular season but fell in the opening round of the playoffs to the Providence Bruins. The Bruins finished 20 points behind the Monarchs during the regular season.
Kostopoulos was previously captain in Wilkes-Barre Scranton in 2002-03 and 2003-04. Twice with the club, he played in a Calder Cup final series but walked away both times without a championship. In 2000-01, the Penguins fell to the Saint John Flames in six games. In 2003-04, Tom led the Penguins in the playoffs with 23 points over 24 games. The team was swept in the finals by the Milwaukee Admirals.
In 2012-13, Kostopoulos played 17 games with WBS and 15 games with the New Jersey Devils. He has signed an AHL contract with the Penguins for the upcoming season.