They say every sport needs a villain, and St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington appears all too happy to play this role — constantly appearing in the news cycle for trying to antagonize opponents or pretending he wants to fight the world seemingly every time he has a rough night.
During Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, Binnington threw another temper tantrum, delivering a cheap shot to Wild forward Ryan Hartman after scoring the go-ahead goal. Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to defend Hartman but the linesman intervened before a proper fracas could break out.
CHAOS!! BINNINGTON GOES AFTER HARTMAN AFTER A GOAL
FLEURY DROPPED THE GLOVES TRYING TO SCRAP 😱 pic.twitter.com/Uwt9w76w48
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 16, 2023
Binnington rose to stardom after carrying the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019. In the ensuing four years, both his play and popular appeal waned significantly.
Here’s a timeline of how Binnington became the NHL’s top pest:
April 10, 2019: A former San Jose Sharks beat reporter named Paul Gackle uncovers racist, since-deleted tweets made by Binnington while he was a teenager in the Ontario Hockey League, and another one sent when he was a 21-year-old in the American Hockey League.
The first one dated January 25, 2013 reads: “I was thinking when people wear the burkas are at the airport how is the security able to see if that’s them in their passport….srsly.”
Binnington doubled down, tweeting: “Also If you're underage & nervous of getting into a bar, throw the damn burka on. no way the bouncer will get into that awkward questioning.”
Binnington was unrepentant and sent another racist tweet on October 22, 2014.
“Ya taxi man I'd probably rather listen to the radio than listen to you talk on the phone in another language,” Binnington wrote.
After these tweets surfaced and drew universal outrage from hockey fans, Binnington showed little remorse.
“It was a while ago when I was a teenager,” Binnington said via The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford. “It was a little sarcasm and joking around. That’s what life is about, you live and learn and you grow as a human. I’m just here to play a couple hockey games.”
Binnington would go on to lead the Blues to a Stanley Cup victory, with most media outlets and personalities promoting his rise from unheralded prospect to Cup-winning goaltender as a feel-good, meteoric ascension — without much mention of the other stuff.
October 17, 2019: Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson dekes Binnington out, then proceeds to jam away at the puck during a wild goalmouth scrum, before Bo Horvat buries it. Binnington then proceeded to pile on top of Pettersson while he was down on the ice.
This would seem somewhat random, but Binnington revealed that jealousy had something to do with it. Pettersson won the Calder Trophy the previous season over Binnington, and the Blues’ goaltender took out his resentment in an unhealthy way.
“There’s a little bit of that bad taste in my mouth about the outcome last year,” Binnington said via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But he’s a talented player, so it’s good going up against some of the best.”
February 28, 2021: Evander Kane, playing for the San Jose Sharks, beats Binnington on a deflected shot and, after some hesitancy, the Blues elect to pull Binnington from the contest after he surrendered four goals on 19 shots. Binnington did not take the news well.
While skating over to his own bench, Binnington circled back to the Sharks and evidently took offense to something one of the players said. Binnington then proceeded to fake-punch Erik Karlsson, then skated the length of the ice, pushing Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk before leaving the game.
“He’s 160 pounds and out there swinging at guys,” Dubnyk said post-game.
“I don’t know why he’s out there fake-punching everybody, but I understand that guys get frustrated sometimes. He’s competitive, a good goalie, and he was obviously pissed off about something. That’s fine. We can look after ourselves.”
Blues head coach Craig Berube defended Binnington’s passion but would change his tune in the years to come after repeated transgressions from his starting goalie.
Cale Makar appeared to score, but the net was knocked off before the whistle blew. A fracas broke out between both teams, with Binnington at the center of it. Binnington then peels off and swings his stick at Kadri’s head, narrowly missing him.
Both players were assessed 10-minute misconducts, while Binnington doubled down and shot the puck at Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
"I have no idea. I don't know why I got a 10-minute penalty there. I stayed out the scrum. We exchanged some words. I got a stick swung in my face. Then I end up with a 10-minute penalty. I'm not quite sure what it was for." Kadri said post-game.
"I started skating towards him but I'm about 50 feet away from the guy. I'm getting misconducts for just talking now. Not quite sure what that's about. What are you going to do?"
May 21, 2022: During a second-round playoff series later that season, Kadri crashed into Binnington after being hauled down by Blues defenseman Calle Rosen while crashing the net. Binnington was injured in the collision and missed the rest of the series, as the Avalanche emerged in six games before winning the Stanley Cup.
Kadri spoke to TNT for a post-game interview and during the live hit, Binnington threw a water bottle at him.
"Not sure if he just threw a water bottle at me" 😳
Nazem Kadri appears to have a water bottle thrown at him while discussing the collision with Binnington 🔎 pic.twitter.com/6XLbAdxEEm
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 22, 2022
“Not sure if he just threw a water bottle at me or not,” Kadri said with a bemused smile.
For ten days, it was mere conjecture as Kadri didn’t bother to substantiate the allegations in pursuit of a Stanley Cup. Binnington came clean during his exit interview ten days later on May 31.
“Couldn’t find a recycling bin on my way down the hallway,” Binnington said via Sportsnet. "Right before I walked into the locker room, I see him doing an interview there, smiling, laughing — and I’m there in a knee brace limping down the hallway. I just felt like it was a God-given opportunity.
“I could just stay silent and go in the room or say something and have him look me in the eye and understand what’s going on — something to think about. I threw the water bottle, an empty water bottle, it landed like two feet from him. It is what it is. It’s hockey. It’s a competitive game.”
Binnington did clarify that he didn’t believe Kadri meant to hurt him.
“It's a physical sport. It's playoff time and he's going to go to the net hard and that's how it goes. I don't think he intentionally was trying to do what he did to me, for me to get injured.”
Kadri finished the playoff run with eight goals, 15 points, lifted the Cup, and then signed a seven-year, $49-million deal with the Calgary Flames in the offseason.
October 31, 2022: After allowing five goals against the Los Angeles Kings, Binnington was pulled from the game. Most goaltenders would keep their head down and reflect on their poor showing, but Binnington went the opposite route, electing to chirp the Kings’ bench.
November 3, 2022: An intermission is supposed to be a time of peace, but Binnington didn’t get the memo. As the New York Islanders took a 4-1 lead into the third period, Binnington’s temper flared up and he went out of his way to aggressively bump Islanders star goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Nothing more came of the incident, but it continued Binnington’s pattern of needlessly aggressive behaviour.
December 1, 2022: Binnington’s lack of self-awareness is a major reason why he’s frequently in trouble. In this instance, Binnington was swiftly punished for his poor decision-making. Binnington tried to lay out Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, a massive human being who makes a living off stealing pucks from the NHL’s best players.
Jordan Binnington tried to lay out Jordan Staal but it didn’t go as planned 😆 pic.twitter.com/cbniFSUEMG
— Gino Hard (@GinoHard_) December 2, 2022
This went as well as you’d expect as Staal ran him over like a mack truck.
December 3, 2022: A lot of Binnington’s antics are childish, frustrating and petty, but he devolved into outright dirty play, delivering a clothesline that could’ve ended Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jason Zucker’s career.
Zucker skated behind the net on a routine play but Binnington shoved his glove in Zucker’s face, causing him to violently crash into the boards. He was taken to the locker room for the duration of the first period for further examination but he returned to the game and would surely get the last laugh.
Binnington proceeded to get lit up by the Penguins and as karma would have it, Zucker scored the Penguins’ fourth goal, chasing his assailant from the net. Most goalies would take the L and move on, but Binnington proceeded to have some words with the Penguins’ bench.
After letting in 4 goals, Jordan Binnington was pulled and had some words for the Penguins bench. pic.twitter.com/G8m5R0Pv2c
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 4, 2022
Perhaps the Blues were content to tolerate Binnington’s ugly character traits when he was a winning goaltender, but head coach Craig Berube was fed up after this one.
“It’s got to stop. It doesn’t help anything,” Berube said. “Just play goal, stop the puck.”
March 14, 2023: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman scored the go-ahead goal and while skating over to celebrate with his teammates, accidentally made contact with Binnington’s leg. Binnington, infamously lacking any cool, hit Hartman in the face with his blocker. Binnington received a match penalty as a result.
I also like to hype up the crowd after allowing five goals against + getting tossed from the game pic.twitter.com/JqaFbNWeLw
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 16, 2023
Binnington then proceeded to raise the roof in an attempt to fire up the crowd like a true heel. It wasn’t a good look and the Wild proceeded to win 8-5.
“Nothing new from him,” Hartman said via The Athletic’s Joe Smith. “He’s been doing stuff like that for a while.”
Binnington offered his own puzzling explanation for his reason to provoke Hartman.
“It was a hard game,” Binnington said. “They’re a tough team to play against. They’re hard around the net, and I just felt it gets to a certain point … goals were going in, so it was frustrating. I just felt, yeah, that was the moment.”
Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had previously been informed that Binnington threw a cheap shot at one of his teammates earlier in the game and decided to attempt to fight his counterpart.
“That one was pretty quick,” Fleury said via Joe Smith of The Athletic. “One of the guys said (Binnington) hit them in the nutsack. Can I say nutsack? Then when I saw him throw another one at our guy, that was the time.”
March 15, 2023: Binnington was banned two games for those aforementioned antics in the Blues' 8-4 loss to Fleury and the Wild on Wednesday.
The Blues netminder received a suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct and will be eligible to return Tuesday against the Red Wings.