There is no doubt that Pekka Rinne’s final game on May 10, 2021, was a perfect ending to a storybook career for the Nashville Predators.
To cap off that perfect game and his subsequent retirement, the Nashville Predators retired his hallowed No.35 in a moving ceremony that was the first of its kind for the franchise.
Rinne’s number is the first number the Predators have ever retired in their 23-year existence.
Pekka Rinne’s memorable speech
In an incredibly moving speech that touched on every facet of his career, Rinne once again touched the hearts of his fans, former teammates, coaches, and his family members who were in attendance.
Trust me when I say there was not a dry eye in Bridgestone Arena.
In his speech, Rinne spoke of his humble hockey aspirations, hoping to play for his hometown team, Oulun Karpat. A career in the NHL was just a childhood dream.
As a young player, on a night that he was not scheduled to start for his Finnish team, Rinne was evaluated on his performance during warmups by a Nashville scout. That night, the scout saw something special in Rinne and took a chance on him. As a result, GM David Poile drafted him in the 8th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
So many heartwarming stories about Rinne and his career were told throughout the night, both before, during, and after the game. However, the most touching story told by Rinne was about his son Paulus and how he looks forward to the day when he can bring his son to a game in Nashville and show his number hanging in the rafters of Bridgestone.
Another memorable moment in Rinne’s speech was his recognition of Juuse Saros. He talked about how proud he was and that he left his position in the best hands possible.
A beaming Saros sat on the bench, smiling back at Rinne. Later that night, Saros would put on an inspiring performance against the Stars with his best friend and mentor watching in the stands.
The list of Rinne’s accolades is long, including a Vezina Trophy, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and several all-star appearances. However, his off-ice accolades are even more impressive. His 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, created with former Predator Shea Weber, is just one example.
Even after Rinne’s retirement, the 365 Fund continues to help families and children throughout Nashville and the surrounding areas.
Rinne’s love of helping others, the city of Nashville, and his fans have been at the forefront of anything he has done in his career. This sentiment was echoed throughout the night by many in attendance.
Nashville Predators came through on Rinne’s special night
The Predators’ mantra for their game against Dallas was “win it for Pekka,” and they did just that. Nashville ended the night with a big win against the Stars and picked up two massive points in a very tight Central Division.
Last night’s win was a perfect bookend to Rinne’s final game where he pitched a 5-0 shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes.
That night in 2021, as Rinne took what would be his final skate around Bridgestone, the crowd could sense that his retirement was near and gave him a proper sendoff. So the win against the Stars on Rinne’s special night couldn’t have been any more perfect.
Rinne spent his entire 16-year career with the Nashville Predators, a very rare feat in the NHL. He has cemented his place as one of Nashville’s most famous and beloved sports figures. His story is a true testament to what can be accomplished through hard work, dedication, and a humble desire to always be kind to others and treat them with the utmost respect.