Jordan Binnington’s storybook ride from fourth stringer to Stanley Cup-winning goaltender was fueled by a few free meals.
The best came last weekend at Brio Tuscan Grille, one of his favorite spots as St. Louis began to feel like home. “They were good to me,” Binnington said.
Binnington has been so good for the Blues that fans of the franchise might not let him pay for another meal again. Drafted in the third round, shuffled to the bottom of the Blues’ goalie chart and even farmed out to Boston’s top minor-league affiliate, Binnington’s comeback is one for the ages: The 25-year-old rookie led the Blues from dead last in the NHL to the first championship in franchise history.
He turned out to be the perfect backstop for the bruising Blues, a quiet anchor to rally around for a six-month run to the title. “It’s really cool,” the soft-spoken Toronto-area native said. “I understand it’s a good story, but I’m going to appreciate it later.”
Binnington spoke not long after a 4-1 victory over the Bruins in Game 7 on Wednesday night. Stunned to be standing there with the Stanley Cup, Binnington wondered aloud, “I can’t believe we’re here now?”
Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images
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He led them here. Craig Berube, who became head coach after Mike Yeo was fired in November, turned to Binnington, who began with a shutout in his first NHL start Jan. 7 in Philadelphia. Binnington went 24-5-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in the regular season.
“The first game he gets a shutout in Philly and you’re hoping,” general manager Doug Armstrong said. “You keep watching and wondering, ‘Is this real?’ Water usually finds its level. Well, his water level is very high. I would say you’re into mid-February and March and he’s a rock of our team. … He’s a well-deserving champion.”
St. Louis’ run coincided with Binnington’s arrival and concluded with him stopping 32 shots in Game 7. “This group just got closer and closer as we went on,” Binnington said. “They welcomed me in well and I just tried to do my job, battle and keep my mouth shut.”
Showing just how many elder St. Louis players hadn’t won the Cup, Binnington was the 14th player to receive the trophy after captain Alex Pietrangelo handed it off. But everyone on the roster knows Binnington led the way when it mattered. He went 7-2 in the playoffs following a loss and earned respect from teammates for how he handled so much time in the minors before getting to this point.
Binnington has been reluctant to dwell on his rags-to-riches story. Don’t expect any grand proclamations now about how he made this improbable championship happen.
“It’s been good,” Binnington said. “I’ve been enjoying it.”
Stephen Whyno is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Blues-Jordan-Binnington-goes-from-castoff-to-13993410.php.