This is an enormous week for the Nashville Predators not only because of their first ever hosted outdoor game in the Stadium Series, but also because Pekka Rinne‘s jersey will finally be lifted to the rafters.
We’ve spent over a decade learning about greatness of Rinne both on and off the ice. His impact on not only the Nashville Predators franchise, but on the fans and city is really impossible to to measure. He’s simply that extraordinary.
Rinne’s jersey will become the first to be retired by the 23-year-old Nashville Predators franchise, and I can assure you there won’t be a shortage of emotions for the fans who have followed him all these years, for his teammates, his family, his friends and Rinne himself.
What I’m hoping really comes out on Thursday during the ceremony as the Nashville Predators take on the Dallas Stars is the spotlight on all of outstanding things Rinne has done off the ice and what he meant to the local community. He’s always been a true philantropist to the Nashville community.
You really can’t measure just how important Pekka was to Nashville Predators
Most recently in 2020 Rinne was an ambassador along with the Nashville Predators Foundation to raise a $365,000 fund in donations to the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which he founded alongside Shea Weber in 2012-13.
Just before Rinne’s retirement last season, he was recognized by the NHL Awards by receiving the King Clancy Memorial Trophy which is awarded annually to the player who leads both on the ice and off the ice in humanitarien work. It was his first time winning this award, and it was a fitting tribute right before his retirement.
There are countless other instances where Rinne has shown his leadership and kindness off the ice that means so much more than whatever may happen on the ice and in the standings. He’s easily one of most, if not the most impactful, Nashville sports athletes of all-time.
Rinne was a major factor into why the Nashville Predators weren’t relocated in the down years when attendance was falling and buzz around the city was wavering. Of course there was a loyal contingent of fans who never gave up on the franchise and rallied, but without a larger than life figure like Rinne on this team, I’m not sure the franchise would’ve stayed.
The career numbers are already well-noted and among the best all-time in NHL history. Only a Stanley Cup is missing, but I’ve always said that’s a team trophy and Rinne should still be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day.
Rinne was always in the hunt for the Vezina Trophy despite only capturing it once during an era of so many elite goaltenders. He finally won one of those in 2017-18 when he posted a record of 42-13-4, a 2.31 GAA, eight shutouts and a .927 save percentage.
For his all-time ranks Rinne is 19th in wins with 369, 22nd in GAA, 19th in shutouts with 60, 17th in save percentage and 23rd in Goals Saved Above Average, per Hockey Reference.
You can’t overstate it enough how much Rinne never let the glory and eliteness get to his head. I’ve never seen a more humble sports superstar in any sport. It’s incredibly rare to find players like Rinne who remain humbled and more about the team than the individual accolades.
Nashville Predators fans and hockey fans in general are all extremely fortunate and blessed to have watched Rinne since his first full NHL season in 2008-09 when he came in fourth in the Calder Trophy voting by winning 29 games and posting seven shutouts.
Stock up on tissues for Thursday night. It’s going to be a milestone occasion for the Nashville Predators franchise, and we know the organization will pull out all the stops to make it a memorable one.