A legacy in Smashville will be cemented forever.
When the Nashville Predators announced last week that Pekka Rinne’s #35 will be headed to the rafters of Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 24, 2022, when they take on the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena. It will be the first number that will be retired by the franchise in 24 seasons, and it’s a honor that it is well-deserved, and only right to do, for a man that has been the pillar of the franchise for 15 years.
Rinne’s Legacy On the Ice
Rinne played 683 games with the Predators, which was the entirety of his career, and he holds virtually all the goaltending records that the Predators have. These include games played, games started (666), wins (369), losses (213), ties/overtime losses (75), shutouts (60), minutes (39,413), total points (15). He led the Predators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 12 of his 15 seasons with the team, missing only the 2008-09 and 2013-14 seasons (2012-13 season was wiped out due to NHL Lockout). During his career, he was a four-time All-Star (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) and a finalist of the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender a total of four times (2011, 2012, 2015, 2018), winning the award in 2018. He also won a World Championship for his native country of Finland in 2014.
Of course, in addition to all the countless and timeless saves over the years that were made, Rinne also has one goal to his credit, in which he was the second Predator goaltender to score a goal in a regular season game (Chris Mason), and the 12th in NHL history to do so during Nashville’s 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 9, 2020. That game just happened to earn John Hynes his first win as the Predators’ head coach.
Rinne’s Legacy Off the Ice
In addition to 15 years of spectacular play on the ice, Rinne was just as much the face of the franchise off the ice (from “Pekka Rinne the player — and person — celebrated as number retirement announced”, The Tennessean 11/03/21), as well. This was exemplified with him winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2020-21, an award given to the “player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” He has done so many great things for his time in Nashville, and in a Southern market (well, all markets, but especially in a Southern market), one thing that is big and wins the fans over is being a part of the community that you are in, and Rinne has done that especially.
Some things that Rinne has done over his time in Nashville was start the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, along with his former teammate, now Montreal Canadien Shea Weber, where two suites are reserved at Bridgestone Arena and feature meet-and-greets with the players. He’s also been involved with the Best Buddies Program, thanks to former head coach Barry Trotz, as well as Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Feed the Frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Winning the King Clancy Award, the NHL was able to make a donation of $25,000 to the charity of his choosing (from “Pekka Rinne wins NHL’s 2021 King Clancy Trophy for efforts in Nashville community”, The Tennessean, 06/15/21), which happened to be the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund to help raise more awareness for children’s cancer research at Monroe Carell Jr.’s Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Rinne’s Legacy Will Be a Franchise First
When No. 35 gets raised to the rafters at Bridgestone Arena, it will be the first time a number in the franchise will be retired. It’s a fitting honor that the man that is most synonymous with the Predators gets this honor first, as he has made such an impact not only putting the Predators on the map on the ice, but having such a humble and gracious demeanor off of the ice. He has made Nashville home, and even as his time was coming to an end, he made the transition to allow a younger Finnish goaltender flourish in Juuse Saros. He is the epitome of what the Nashville Predators have been and will be, and that will be honored forever on February 24, 2022.
Well done, and well deserved, Pekka.
Nashville Predators writer. Graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and Northeastern University. Been into hockey since NHL 94 and not knowing what I was doing to having a pretty good idea of how to play. Based in Nashville since 2015. Sharks fan.