November is the month for giving thanks. Every week we’ll feature some things related to the Nashville Predators for which to be thankful.
Hockey fans are waiting and hoping that the NHL can work out the details so that Nashville Predators fans and players alike can have some semblance of a normal season starting in January.
For Nashville Predators fans, this time away from the sport is robbing us of a national treasure.
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Next season may be the last for Pekka Rinne. His contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.
At 38-years-old, we may be witnessing the swan song of Nashville’s most outstanding goaltender.
With his surge in goal at the end of last season, the assumption has always been that Juuse Saros would be the undisputed starter next season. I envision a 60/40 split of the starts with Rinne once the season gets going.
If the NHL shortens the season to 60 games or so, Predators fans will only have around 24 more opportunities to watch Rinne between the pipes.
For Rinne fans, this is a very sad proposition.
Rinne hasn’t played a game since the beginning of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, his last outing was a loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
We all recall that Saros was favored over Rinne during the Predators’ ill-fated run in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Rinne had started in 89 consecutive playoff games up until that point.
Rinne never got the nod from Head Coach John Hynes in any of the four qualifier games, much to the chagrin of many fans. We’ll never know if Rinne could’ve turned back time and put up a brick wall to carry the Predators out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Rinne By The Numbers
The Nashville Predators selected Rinne in the 8th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. General Manager David Poile must have seen something in a young Rinne that other teams did not.
His first full season with the Predators was 2008-09, in which he played 52 games.
Rinne has played in 659 NHL games (359-201-74). He has also tallied 58 shutouts in his career, which has him tied for 20th all-time in NHL history, just behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist. Rinne’s lifetime GAA is 2.42, and his save percentage is .917.
Rinne claimed his first Vezina Trophy in 2018 and as a finalist in 2011, 2012, and 2015. Throughout his career, he also received votes for the Calder and Hart trophies as well.
Rinne participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019. He was also selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2018. Just last season, Rinne won an NHL Fan Choice award for “Goal Of The Year.”
A Most Excellent Human Being
For all of the fantastic things Rinne has done on the ice, the most memorable are those off the ice.
Not one to brag on himself; in interviews, most accolades are deflected back to his teammates or the team as a whole. After scoring his goaltender goal against the Chicago Blackhawks, his teammates encouraged Rinne to do the ceremonial skate by the bench to give high fives. He politely declined.
Rinne is also involved in several charity initiatives in the Nashville community. Recently, Rinne, the 365 Fund, and the Nashville Predators foundation donated $365,000.20 to benefit pediatric cancer research at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Together they have raised over $3.3M since starting the fund in 2012.
We, as fans, are very fortunate that Poile took a chance on the young Finnish goaltender. If we are lucky, Rinne may decide to stay an extra season since the NHL will probably shorten the upcoming one.
Rinne is an elite goaltender and should be ranked among the greats. His long and glorious career with the Predators is something for which we should all be thankful. We will miss seeing Rinne between the pipes once he hangs up his skates for good.
I am going to call it now, although it’s not much of a take. Rinne will have the first retired jersey number in Nashville Predators history.