Jordan Binnington started the year out behind Jake Allen, Chad Johnson, and Ville Husso on the St. Louis Blues depth chart for goaltender. He was the guy doing his job, and doing it quite well, but couldn’t crack the roster or be considered over the next phenom.
You see, Binnington wasn’t picked to be the phenom; he just became one this year by taking the reins of a job and never giving them back. This week, he was named the Rookie of the Month in the NHL. From the minor league basement to the top of the NHL in less than four months is quite the story, don’t you think?
How did it happen? Well, get in bed and I’ll tell you a story, hockey addicts.
When Allen hit another rough patch (third season in a row) and Johnson revealed himself not to be Brian Elliott or Carter Hutton 2.0, Binnington was given a legit shot over Husso, who had run into some struggles in San Antonio.
After a couple relief appearances in December, Binnington got his first start against Philadelphia on Jan. 7 in Philly. He shut the Flyers out that night, stopping all 25 shots. Binnington’s first five starts didn’t allow the other team a lower save percentage than 93%. At one point, in a stretch lasting nearly a month, he won nine straight starts, including three shutouts.
Nicknames and sound bites were created. Since he handles his media sessions like a violent offender stuck in prison without parole, Binnington’s “do I look nervous?” mantra became a t-shirt. Mr. Blues Hat started using the hashtag, #Winnington. Blues fans, after a few months of shitty hockey and early draft spying, fell in love with the 25-year-old self-made phenom.
Others thought he would come back to Earth. Yeah, rethink that. Binnington had some rough games, but here’s how he looks today. 28 starts, 22 wins, a 1.85 goals against average, save percentage of 93%, and five shutouts. He’s the guy in net, and not Allen, who has done well for himself in backup duty.
Another year brought another goaltending savior for the Blues, so don’t act surprised. This is how the Blues do it. High drama. They either trade for the wrong guy or see him not become what they wanted, hand out a large contract to another and see a backup take over, or watch a young buck rise up. Nothing happens according to plan for the Blues when it comes to netminders.
Give it a name if you’d like, but whatever label ends up on it, the Binnington story may be the most amazing tale yet. No one saw this coming back in October. Maybe a few good starts and then a collapse. Not a 28 start run that still has some gas left in the tank.
He was an afterthought around the holidays. Now, he’s the Rookie of the Month and ranks among the top goalies in the NHL.
Example #2580 that you simply never know in the world of sports.
Thanks for reading. You can get out of bed now.