In what was perfect timing on Rinne’s birthday, the Nashville Predators announced that they will retire Rinne’s number on February 24, 2022 against the Dallas Stars. A worthy opponent for Rinne’s jersey retirement ceremony as they’re a growing rival and Rinne had plenty of success against them with a career 18 wins, 2.88 GAA and four shutouts.
Rinne’s jersey number being retired will be the first in the franchise’s 23-year history, and it will be incredibly monumental when it gets raised to the Bridgestone Arena rafters.
Nashville Predators and life after Pekka Rinne
The Predators are navigating through their first season without Rinne since 2007-08, so this is obviously still a really weird feeling to not have him around. Juuse Saros has gotten the bulk of the workload through the first 10 games, starting eight of them.
Rinne is not only a Nashville Predators legend, but a Nashville sports legend in general. Without him, hockey and the franchise doesn’t grow like it did here in Tennessee and the surrounding region. They also probably wouldn’t have become a perennial playoff team that came within two wins of a Stanley Cup in 2017.
Rinne talked about how “speechless” he was to finding out from Nashville Predators GM David Poile that he was getting this honor of jersey retirement, via the Predators official website. Talk about humility from such a great player who everyone on the outside looking in knew he’d get this honor, and fully deserves it.
Looking back on Rinne’s final start back in May against the Hurricanes really was the storybook ending to a glorious career as he got the shutout in front of the home crowd.
That was an emotional night, but this jersey retirement ceremony will be in front of a sellout crowd and will be multiplied exponentially in terms of emotions.
The only thing that keeps this from being perfect is that the Predators couldn’t deliver a Stanley Cup for Rinne. He absolutely deserves one, and unfortunately the Predators couldn’t ever get over the playoff hump to win the toughest trophy in team sports to win.
This night is even more special because Rinne did indeed retire with the Nashville Predators as his only NHL team he played for. There was that possibility he could’ve joined a contender as a back-up to try to chase that Stanley Cup, or even decide to prolong his career as a starter like Marc-Andre Fleury decided to do with the Blackhawks.
Either way Rinne would’ve rightfully gotten the jersey retired eventually, but seeing as he never played for another team makes it even more iconic.
Tickets are already going for enormous amounts for that special game in February at Bridgestone Arena, so good luck finding a ticket if you haven’t already. However, if you do, it will be well worth it to witness Rinne get his well-deserved recognition from the Smashville faithful.