ST. LOUIS — With the St. Louis Blues' packing their things to head into the offseason, we finally got to hear from goaltender Jordan Binnington on Tuesday, following the collision that knocked him out of the playoffs.
Binnington met with the St. Louis media at Enterprise Center, with his knee in a light brace to talk about the collision and subsequent injury, his roller coaster season and even the infamous 'water bottle incident' with Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri.
First, the Game 3 collision. Binnington said Kadri may have known what he was doing crashing the net, but he doesn't think the Avalanche forward was trying to intentionally hurt him.
"It's a physical sport. And It's playoff time and he's gonna go to the net hard and it's how it goes. I don't think he intentionally was trying to do what he did to me, or for me to get injured, I should say. But I think he knows how to play hard, how to go to the net and it happens in this sport. For me, it is what it is. And I just kind of have to deal with it," Binnington said.
Binnington was removed from a Game 3 the Blues were winning, and seemed to be holding the Avalanche at bay. It spiraled from there, with the Blues losing the series in six games, with a heart-stopping Blues overtime victory in Game 5 mixed in.
The knee injury for Binnington will take some time to heal, and the goaltender said it's tough to answer if he could have returned later in the playoffs, had the Blues advanced. Binnington did say he will not need surgery.
"It's doing alright. Kind of tough to say. It's just going to take some time. That's I guess something since we're not playing will have time to get back to fully healed," Binnington said.
Binnington tried to find a way to keep himself in Game 3, but realized quickly that wasn't going to be possible.
"Yeah it was interesting. I actually had never left a game as a goaltender in my whole life. It was something I was kind of proud of and tried to carry with me. I just felt like something was off. And Ray (Barile) was so comforting out there and was kind of just saying, 'You've got to test it out before I leave you here'. And it felt alright on my feet, and then when I went down to my knees I realized I couldn't go," Binnington said.
What happened immediately after Game 3 was talked about nearly as much as what did happen on the ice. While Kadri was doing a post-game interview on live television, he said that Binnington had thrown an empty water bottle his direction.
Here's what Binnington had to say about the whole "water bottle incident".
"I went to get my knee checked out mid-game. And I was coming back to the rink, the game just ended, walking down the hallway. I couldn't find a recycling bin on my way down the hallway, and right before I walked into the locker room I kind of saw him doing an interview there, smiling and laughing and I'm there in a knee brace limping down the hallway," Binnington said. "Just felt like it was a God-given opportunity, I could just stay silent and go in the room or I could say something and just have him look me in the eye and understand what's going on and (have) something to think about. I just, yeah, threw the water bottle, an empty water bottle. It landed like 2 feet from him. So, it is what it is there. It is what it is. It's hockey, and it's a competitive game. So that's it."
Binnington had been supplanted by Ville Husso to begin the playoffs, with Husso having the much better 2022 statistical season. But when he got his chance back in the postseason again, Binnington made the most of it.
In six postseason starts, Binnington went 4-1 with a 1.72 goals against average and a .949 save percentage.
He said he tried to keep a positive mindset and control what he could control.
"Whatever happens, it always goes back to how you handle it. Just try to put yourself in the best position possible and contribute to the team. Ville had an outstanding season and he's a great goaltender. And it was working for the team, so absolutely I just have to do what I can to be ready to get back in there if the team needs me whenever that is. I'm in a good spot and I feel like it was a great learning experience of a season for me and a good test of character and I think just another year of just getting closer with the teammates. We have a great core here, so I think the guys were really supportive of me trying to find my way and from the team I got a lot of love in the locker room, so I think it definitely will carry with us moving forward," Binnington said.
As for moving forward, Binnington said how this past season ended will help motivate them over the offseason.
"I think a lot of guys took steps forward. I think our young guys especially. I think we came together more and more as a team throughout the season. We finished the season strong and came together well, and we put up a good fight in the playoffs and we're not satisfied for sure, but I think for me it's a learning experience. And a year of experience for all of us to carry with us and kind of bottle up that feeling of not winning. You bottle it up and carry that motivation with you in your summer programs and just thinking about the next season," Binnington said.