Monday, May 4, 2020

Binnington's picked up new hobby during NHL pause

Blues goalie joined by Holtby, Murray on NHL video call to talk 
about down time, getting where he is, how he became a goalie

ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps Jordan Binnington is a but envious of teammate Ryan O'Reilly.

Not necessarily for O'Reilly's craft on the ice. Each has his own characteristic trait. But with the coronavirus pandemic grounding the NHL since March 12, in nearly two months of living in St. Louis with his girlfriend, Binnington has picked up a new hobby while waiting like everyone else to get back on the ice.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington makes a save on March 9 against the
Florida Panthers. It was his last start before the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm still in St. Louis also, just kind of laying low here. Got a little condo. It's tough not getting outside much," Binnington said during an NHL Zoom video call on Monday. "We'll go for walks. Just picked up a new hobby with the guitar. Got a couple rounds in there, but it's tough. Keeping me busy and just doing what I can to kind of pass the time and come out with something to show for it."

O'Reilly has been a guitar and music buff for quite some time, but with nearly two months since the Blues' last action, there has been plenty of down time and quarantine time to do other things.

Binnington, who was on the call with fellow goalies Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals and Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins as netminders who have been on the past four Stanley Cup winning teams (Binnington in 2019, Holtby in 2018 and Murray in 2016 and 2017), has been keeping as busy in as many ways as one is allowed. For goalies, it has to be one of the toughest things knowing that at a moment's notice, the league could lay forth contingency plans of finishing the season and playing the Stanley Cup playoffs with really no shots faced.

So how is Binnington coping?

"At first, I was working out a little bit thinking it was going to be a short-term thing and then after you kind of realize it's going to be a little bit longer, I took some time for myself and kind of gave the mind a little break and then picked it back up," Binnington said. "I just do what I can. Like they're saying, I think we're all in the same boat. You've got to get creative with what you're doing. I think we'll have ample time to turn it back up when need be."

Each goalie was given the floor to speak of how they came to the position they are currently in, and in Binnington's case, it was a quick and easy transition.

"I think the story goes ... my parents can refresh my memory a little bit, but I think the story goes I was a player, I think I got cut from a team and in the house league, I think I would dress up as the goalie because we rotate through," Binnington said. "In the house league, we rotate as the goalie, and I was having fun out there and I kind of talked my dad [John] into it and he just wanted me to have fun. I went to a tryout and when I was in the net, the coach took a shot and hit me in the face. I wouldn't even react and he skated over to my dad and said, 'He's on the team.' That's how I got my first job and from there, I just had fun with it. That's the transition.

"He must have been like, 'This guy's nuts, but he's going to be our goalie.'"

Binnington's story seemed to be a mile long, but he was able to use both Holtby and Murray, with more experience in the league, as an example of guys coming from the bottom of the ladder and reaching the pinnacle.

"I think I had a lot to learn and sometimes it takes time," Binnington said. "Everyone has different routes. For me, I remember when Murray (was) in (Scranton/Wilkes Barrie) and (he) was just putting up unlimited shutouts a year. I remember (he) had like 12 one year and I was in Chicago in the minors (with the Wolves) at the time and I was like, 'Wow, I don't understand how he's doing it' kind of thing and he made his run and won a Cup and had a great start to his career and kind of opened my perspective to my eyes and what it takes. You have to kind of dominate at the level below before you can move up and make sure you're as prepared as you can be. Goalies understand what you go through. 

"I even remember watching 'Holts'. I think it was in the playoffs when (he) made (his) first run. I remember watching (him) and was like, 'Wow, this guy is sick.' (He) had to go through the minors early on I guess. ... I think we all understand what it takes to get there. It's cool to see. It's motivating to see. It's influential and we understand it and can take it into our game and our mind and kind of keep growing with it."

Each player was presented with questions to answer regarding teammates, and in Binnington's case, some of the answers may surprise:

-- who would buzz shots at his head instead of hitting the pads -- 
I don't really want to throw anyone under the bus. Everyone's pretty professional. I think they understand at this level that head shots hurt a lot, so they do their best to stay away from it, but [Jacob] de la Rose has got me once or twice this year. I'll leave it at that.

-- have you been able to figure out [Vladimir] Tarasenko's release yet -- 
Even if I had his secrets, I wouldn't give them away, but you don't really know where it's going when he has the puck on his stick.

-- Who's winding up in practice and you're saying please somebody block this --
[Colton] Parayko for sure, but I don't even think you want anyone blocking it. It's incredible how hard that guy's shot is. 

-- Hardest shot to read -- 
I don't think I've been in the league long enough to answer the question. I think I need a little more experience. I can't think of anyone right now.

-- who blocks the most shots -- 
I'd say Steener is pretty good in that field. He gets his foot out and he's not afraid to eat it. He plays it off too. He doesn't go down and milk it to the bench. I'm not saying that any guys do that on the team, but he's pretty strong and he eats a lot of shots.

From a Stanley Cup perspective, Binnington said the parade was his most memorable moment, even more so than the immediate aftermath and celebration on the ice at TD Garden in Boston last season after winning 4-1 in Game 7.

"I'd have to go with the parade," Binnington said. "The city was pretty electric and I had some family on the float. That's something that all of us team-wise will remember forever."

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