WASHINGTON (AP) — Jordan Binnington loved the thrill of 18,000 St. Louis Blues fans cheering for him after an altercation with Minnesota's Ryan Hartman.
The ensuing suspension? Not so much.
Binnington on Friday said he “hoped for less” than the two-game ban the NHL's Department of Player Safety decided on for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct after his first experience having a disciplinary hearing that made him feel a little like Matt Damon.
“It felt like I was in ‘Good Will Hunting’ acting as Will trying to defend himself in trial," Binnington said. "A new experience, for sure, and definitely not something I want to go through all the time.”
Binnington's first career suspension will cost him just under $64,865 and keep him out of games at Washington and then at home against Winnipeg on Saturday. He was suspended for throwing a punch at Hartman that he argued never landed.
“I was just reiterating that he knows how to embellish a play," Binnington said in his first public comments since the suspension was announced Thursday. “I watched the video numerous times. I never made contact with him.”
Nevertheless, coach Craig Berube did not seem surprised at Binnington's punishment.
“You use your blocker like that, there’s a pretty good chance you’re gonna get suspended,” Berube said. "That’s it. That’s really all I have to say about it.”
While teammate Robert Thomas said it hurts to lose Binnington — “an important part of our team” — for two games, the 29-year-old who backstopped the Blues to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2019 felt it important to join the team on their one-game road trip even knowing he wasn't eligible to play.
“I’m trying to stay around the boys and around the team and not get too far away, keep your mind off things,” Binnington said. “I would rather be here with the group and keeping the routine. It’s a new experience testing out that suspended life.”
Top goaltending prospect Joel Hofer was recalled to take Binnington's place and start against the Capitals, making his season debut and playing in his third NHL game.
"I’ve been waiting for the call all year," Hofer said.
The call from the league is something Binnington was not waiting for, and he said getting married and turning 30 could make for “a new JB” in the future.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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