By Lou Korac
Kyle Konin is the emergency backup goalie for the St. Louis Blues against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (BSSUN, BSMW, ESPN+, ESPN LIVE).
Jordan Binnington was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol, and the Blues initially said Charlie Lindgren was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League. However, under the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, and with the Blues near the NHL salary cap, for them to make a roster move, they would have had to play one game with fewer than 18 skaters and two goalies to not to be affected by the salary cap and make a recall without making a corresponding roster move.
“I’m definitely excited, I don’t think I’ve gotten settled down,” Konin told the Blues website after practice. “I came home, I’ve been airing out my gear and then I’m turning right back around to go to the rink
“It’s really cool, it’s what you dream of as a kid every day. For one night at least, I get to live (being in the NHL) with my family and friends. My close family is going to buy tickets and come to the game. It almost feels like how you see on TV when someone makes their NHL debut and their whole family goes to the game, that’s kind of what this is feeling like right now.”
Konin most recently played at Grand Valley State University in Michigan in 2019-20, with a 2.75 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in three games. The 23-year-old backed up Ville Husso against the Lightning.
“He’s excited, seemed like a decent, nice guy,” Berube said. “We’ll meet him tonight when we come back for the game and he’ll be here, get him introduced to everybody and feeling comfortable. It’ll be fun. It’ll be great experience for him. I’ve never met the guy, just talked to him on the phone briefly. He seemed like a real good guy.”
Konin played junior hockey across several leagues with the Rhode Island Hitmen, Kimball Union Academy, Kansas City Scouts, Atlanta Capitals, Vermont Lumberjacks and New Hampshire Avalanche before attending Grand Valley State.
“[Coach Craig Berube] and I talked to [Konin] about 20 minutes ago,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said after practice. “Had a good conversation. He had a morning skate today with his beer league guys and he said he was on fire and ready to go, so we’re excited to have him in here and he’s excited.”
Konin, who recently opened a goalie mask design business, said he knows Thursday will be a day he won’t ever forget.
“It’s crazy. I’ve had to keep my phone plugged in because everyone in my contact list has texted or called,” he said. “My friends and family are freaking out because we don’t get to live this every day. It’s pretty crazy, but it’s been cool.”
Joel Hofer, who was recalled earlier this season when Husso was in COVID-19 protocol, has a roster bonus that would put the Blues over the cap ceiling if he were recalled and they would also have to make a roster move. Therefore Lindgren, who is making the NHL minimum of $750,000, will join St. Louis on Friday.
“It’s just one of those things you just have to roll with because we have (forward David) Perron (upper body) out … our injuries and our COVID, and then another COVID,” Armstrong said. “We don’t have the cap space to bring a guy up for tonight and under League rules, we’ll use Tampa’s emergency guy and tomorrow, we’ll bring up Charlie.”
Binnington, who is 8-5-3 with a 2.80 GAA and .912 save percentage, will be out a minimum of 10 days. He is the eighth Blues player to enter COVID-19 protocol this season (forwards Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Clifford and Tyler Bozak, defensemen Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola, and Husso).
“It’s nothing new for us,” said Krug, who missed five games from Nov. 7-14. “Obviously we just hope [Binnington is] feeling good and healthy and doesn’t have too many side effects or anything. Obviously second to that, we’ve just got to prepare like we normally do. [Husso] has been playing great this year and he’s going to step in and do the job for us and we’re going to play good in front of him. Just like another situation that we’ve got to face with, deal with.”
Husso was 3-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .936 save percentage in four games.
“We don’t like to hear that news, like any of our guys that got COVID this year,” Berube said. “It’s tough news to get, but Husso’s played well, we trust him and rely on him so hopefully we’ll get somebody up here soon for a backup, but we just move on. … We talked about going through this, it could go on the whole year with everything with this COVID. It’s just another roadblock, but we’ve just got to get through it.”
Jett Alexander, a goalie for the University of Toronto, was the backup for the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an 8-3 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs used University of Toronto goalie Alexander Bishop as the backup to Jack Campbell when they defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Oct. 16.
The last time an emergency backup goalie was used in an NHL game was Feb. 22, 2020, also at Scotiabank Arena, when David Ayres made seven saves in 28:41 for the Carolina Hurricanes after Mrazek and James Reimer each sustained an injury during the game. Ayres earned the win with the Hurricanes defeating the Maple Leafs 6-3.
(Originally published at https://www.nhl.com/news/st-louis-blues-dressing-kyle-konin-as-emergency-backup-goalie-for-tampa-bay-game/c-328561274)