St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington attempted to explain publicly Tuesday why he threw a water bottle at Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri after Game 3 of their second-round series -- marking the first time he has addressed the issue since the incident became a lightning-rod moment.
Binnington said he was returning to the rink after the game in a knee brace when the incident occurred during TNT's interview with Kadri after a Colorado win on May 21. It stemmed from a play in which Binnington was bowled over by Kadri as he was battling for a loose puck with Blues defenceman Calle Rosen.
"Couldn’t find a recycling bin on my way down the hallway," Binnington said during the Blues' season-ending session with reporters on Tuesday. "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."
Kadri said during the TV interview he thought the water bottle was thrown by Binnington, but the goaltender himself did not confirm that until Tuesday.
Binnington added he doesn't feel Kadri "intentionally was trying to do what he did to me, for me to get injured," per Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic.
Binnington missed the remainder of the series, which the Avalanche won in six games.
In the days between Games 3 and 4, the Avalanche and law enforcement investigated threats made to Kadri, who was the subject of racist social media posts.
There was enhanced security for Kadri during Game 4 in St. Louis. He scored a hat trick to lead the Avalanche to victory that night.
The Blues faced criticism for their response to the threats against Kadri between Games 3 and 4 with coach Craig Berube initially saying "no comment" when asked to weigh in.
Days later, Berube attempted to clarify his answer, explaining that he was unaware of the “the racist stuff” — though he acknowledged he did know of a threat.