A Smashville legend is calling it a career and leaving one large legacy behind him.
After 15 seasons, and elevating himself to being the pillar of the Nashville Predators by taking over nearly every record in the books and playing 683 games, Pekka Rinne announced his retirement on Tuesday from the NHL. He ends his career with a record of 369-217-5, with the 369 wins the most in franchise history. Other records include: 60 shutouts, a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.43, 17,627 saves, and 39,413:29 total time on ice. He is 19th on the NHL record books for shutouts and tied for 19th in wins. He also was a four-time NHL All-Star, appearing in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019.
A Stellar Career It Was
The native of Kempele, Finland, was drafted in the eighth round (258th overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft (to put it in perspective, 28 goalies were selected ahead of him), and made his debut on Dec. 15, 2005, which was a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. He only played three games in that season.
After spending time in Milwaukee with the Admirals, he moved to the backup role for the 2007-08 season backing up Dan Ellis. The following season, Rinne took over the starting role and went 29-15-4 with a 2.38 GAA, a .917 save percentage (SV%), and seven shutouts, a Predators’ record at the time. That was followed up with seven shutouts the next season, and a new record with eight in 2017-18. He finished his rookie campaign fourth in Calder Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year.
Rinne set career-best marks in 2010-11 with a 2.12 GAA and a .930 SV%. He led the Predators to their first ever Stanley Cup series win over the Anaheim Ducks, and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as best goaltender and finished fourth in the Hart Memorial Trophy voting for Most Valuable Player. He was a Vezina finalist the following season after posting a career-high 43 wins. The other two seasons he posted 40-plus wins (41 in 2014-15, and 42 in 2017-18) and he was a finalist for the Vezina, winning the award in 2018. He led the Predators to their only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2017, when they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
In international play for his native Finland, Rinne led the Finns to a silver medal in the 2014 IIHF World Championships, winning Most Valuable Player, as well as being named to the IIHF All-Star team. He followed that with the Best Goaltender award in 2015 while setting a record of playing the most minutes without a goal allowed. These accomplishments led him to being named to the IIHF All-Finland team in 2020.
Rinne was the first goalie (and most recent) since Mike Smith in 2013 to score a goal, in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 9, 2020. He became the 12th goaltender in NHL history to score a goal, and the second Predators goaltender to accomplish this feat after Mason.
This past season, Rinne went 10-12-1 in 24 appearances, backing up Juuse Saros. On May 10, 2021, in the final game of his NHL career, he posted a shutout with 30 saves in a 5-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, which gave him his 60th shutout and passed Evgeni Nabokov for 19th on the NHL shutout list. It was culminated with a standing ovation from the Smashville faithful at Bridgestone Arena and lap around the ice with his family in attendance.
Rinne not only had an immense impact on the ice, he likely had a bigger impact off the ice. He has been involved in so many charities, the top one being The 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which has raised about $3 million. This work that he has done in the Nashville community was recognized by the NHL when he won the 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player that “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
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Other charities that Rinne was involved include: the Best Buddies Program, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Feed the Frontline. The Best Buddies Program was established in the late 2000s and former Predators’ coach Barry Trotz introduced Rinne to the program, which he has been a huge part of since. In also granting wishes to many kids in Middle Tennessee via Make-A-Wish, he teamed up with Feed The Frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic to help feed medical staff and other essential personnel and help the restaurant industry as well.
Thank You, Pekka
There’s no doubt that Rinne is the best player in Predators’ history. His stellar saves, and hard work and preparation on the ice endeared himself to the Smashville crowd. But what really got to their hearts was the low profile and charitable work he put into the community. He is without question going to have the 35 retired by the Predators and hanging in the rafters of Bridgestone Arena one of these days. He was the face of the franchise for over a decade, and synonymous with the success of the team. David Poile, the Predators general manager, had enough respect for Rinne’s work in a uniform that he gave him a full no-movement clause in his contract. The Rinne era is ending, but it is one to be celebrated, without question.
Put down your favorite Rinne moments in the comments, or find me on Twitter @ddunhamjr!
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.