Once upon a time, resides a boy that lived and breathed hockey. His name is Jordan Binnington. And his story is unlike any other.
He wasn’t your average NHLer in the beginning but he had the heart of a Stanley Cup Champion.
Jordan started his major junior hockey career in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack. After posting impressive numbers in his third year, he helped his team to become OHL champions. That helped him rank as the top OHL goaltender entering the 2011 NHL Entry Draft where he was selected 88th overall by the St. Louis Blues.
Even after the draft he knew the fight for greatness was just beginning. He worked, and he worked, and he worked. But he had trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
As the Blues acquired another goaltender this put more competition on Jordan. Did he give up though? No. He kept fighting and pushed himself to work harder.
He was even told to look into playing in the ECHL, but he was headstrong in his belief he didn’t belong there. “Yeah, I didn’t want to go there” Binnington said. “I was confident in myself that I could handle the next level. Just to be ready for the opportunity when it came.”
Ironically, that’s when he was loaned to Providence. The BOSTON BRUINS AHL affiliate where he finished out the 2017-18 season as an AHL All-Star. That made Boston want him. They inquired, and the Blues passed. Even though he hadn’t seen the ice at the NHL level, holding onto him didn’t hurt their numbers in any way.
The 2018-19 season was a little more promising for Jordan and he started seeing the results. He began in San Antonio with the Blues AHL affiliate and even managed to get his first chance at the NHL that same year. He wasn’t the next in line, but when the Blues began to struggle and Allen was without a back-up, Binnington was given the nod.
He eventually started his first game against the Flyers with limited expectations, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Blues realized they may have struck gold. He shut them out. And ever since January 7th, 2019, Jordan Binnington gradually took over the starting role.
The accolades speak for themselves: NHL First Star of the Week, NHL Rookie of the month in back-to-back months, rookie wins record for a goaltender in Blues franchise history, and even multiple playoff records. Deservingly, he’s even a Calder Trophy Finalist – NHL Rookie of the Year.
With that being said, you can expect Blues fans have taken notice. This man had the whole crowd chanting his last name during Game 4 of the First Round against Winnipeg. “Binnington, Binnington, Binnington….” which proves he has won over every fan’s heart in St. Louis.
But the story doesn’t end here.
The Blues are still 4 wins away from their first ever Stanley Cup and obviously this is a moment Binnington has always dreamed. It’s not going to be an easy road though and the Bruins think they may have the upper edge.
Is it any advantage that they’ve seen you before? Head Coach Bruce Cassidy thinks so. “They’re a good hockey team and have some talented players” Binnington says. “We’ll see how we handle it.”
Being the underdog isn’t a strange place for the St. Louis Blues. After being counted out in the early months of 2019, they rallied back and won 11 straight games in a row. They are familiar playing against the odds.
So how does Binnington feel about this? Can we find out what he’s actually thinking? We saw how he reacted after the Blues won Game 7. Not a lot of enthusiasm after Maroon scored the goal in 2OT. He’s very straight-forward. There was no excitement, he just tapped his posts and skated calmly away. Most goalies would’ve skated jubilantly to the pile-up, instead, Binnington just took his time. That’s one of his many features that stands out. You’ll never catch him off-guard. He’s always locked-in.
So how can he be calm in a time like this? Never ask him that or you’ll get his “Do I look nervous?”response.
There is only one thing he’s thinking about right now and that’s taking one game at a time. Craig Berube said earlier this year that “Binnington moves on quickly” and that’s definitely important in a series like this. His ability to forget, win or loss, is something that you can’t teach.
In the end, unlike like Game of Thrones, hopefully Jordan Binnington can make you content. But as of right now, this story has no ending.
To be continued…