St. Louis Blues Goaltenders Just Can’t Have Nice Things

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 6: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues allows a goal against the Winnipeg Jets at the Enterprise Center on February 6, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 6: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues allows a goal against the Winnipeg Jets at the Enterprise Center on February 6, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues have always had question marks regarding their goaltending situation. You would think winning a championship might quiet those, but apparently not.

The position of goaltender is one of the most difficult in all of sports, and I don’t even mean because of the physical aspects either. The man in net is always questioned, no matter what, and the St. Louis Blues goaltenders have always gotten a lot of that.

Pick your favorite. It doesn’t matter.

Grant Fuhr? Too old and allowed too many goals according to his detractors. Curtis Joseph? Great physical attributes, but choked under pressure.

Brian Elliott? Didn’t do anything before or after the Blues, so it was about the team in front of him. Jake Allen? Same reasoning, plus there was always the anecdotal evidence of scoring fewer goals for Allen, so there had to be some locker room conspiracy against him.

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We could run down the list. While there was no social media to make the chatter louder, I’m sure there were some who battled it out over whether the Blues should play Jacques Plante or Glenn Hall, if both were healthy.

I guess it comes with being a focal point. That scrutiny is not a stranger to quarterbacks either.

There is an old saying that the backup QB is the fans’ favorite player, because there is this odd belief he’s just waiting in the wings for his moment to be better than the guy in there. Kurt Warner was a fantastic story, but that was the Powerball Jackpot. It just doesn’t happen that way most times.

The same is true for goaltenders. The next guy is not always the better guy, but fans always think so.

It’s not even just a St. Louis thing. Marc-Andre Fleury won three Stanley Cups, but some Pittsburgh Penguins fans were always trying to get him out of town.

Patrick Roy won four Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies and, for my money, is the best of all time. However, Montreal fans were saying he was washed up before he even won them a cup in 1993, his second with the team.

How in the world can a goaltender in their mid-20’s be washed up in any capacity if they are not injured? It boggles the mind.

Unfortunately, this is the path Jordan Binnington now walks. That is not to say he will be the next Roy or even Fleury, but he’s getting questioned just a year after winning a Stanley Cup in a Kurt Warner-esque story.

To be fair, much of the questioning is literal questioning and not coming from the belief that he cannot. Yet, it seems odd to even feel the need to ask the question.

Chris Rongey, of 101 ESPN, was the first media person I heard bring up this topic. To his credit, he said he thinks Binnington is capable of winning one, but why even broach the topic?

The same is true of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their recent headline read “With playoffs on the horizon, can Binnington do it again?”

Having a vague knowledge of how newsrooms work, I know Jim Thomas likely did not come up with that headline. Regardless, it still begs the question of why even bring it up?

We are all looking for topics to talk about and discuss, but usually you bring up a question because of something you’ve seen. St. Louis Cardinals fans will ask if Dexter Fowler will have a short leash because they have not seen enough offense for them to believe he will play for long without a great season.

Or, you might ask if Yadier Molina could/should play another season. That question is based on his age.

Other than the fact we had a pandemic shut down the NHL, what has Binnington done to make anyone think he cannot do it again? History says he won’t because so few have actually won two in a row, especially in the modern era.

Hockey is different though. If the Blues don’t win it in 2020, that doesn’t mean Binnington lost it.

In plenty of ways, we are too championship obsessed. Whether it be goaltenders or quarterbacks or NBA players, it is never enough.

Payton Manning was one of the best QB’s ever, but the talk was always he never won one. When he did win a Superbowl, the discussion immediately became “well, he’s only won one.”

Nevermind that championships are hard to win. Ask Ray Bourque or Dan Marino, one who had to wait until the end of his career and go to a different team to win and another who never won one and never got the chance after losing a Superbowl in his first season.

Also, regardless of numbers, Binnington manages to win.  Yes, he had a few clunkers in the 2019 playoffs and during 2019-20, but he still managed to win a lot of games.

Wayne Gretzky considered Grant Fuhr the greatest goaltender of all time.  His numbers were never among the greatest, but he earned that distinction from his teammate because he buckled down at the right time and won games for his team.

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So, let us all just calm down on the questioning of the Blues goaltender. This is coming from someone who stuck by Jake Allen through thick and thin, but Binnington is the guy right now and we should all be good with that..

Perhaps it is not human nature anymore, but let’s just allow his career to unfold and judge each season after it’s over instead of predicting the future.