Nashville Predators goaltender and franchise icon Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL today following a decorated 15-year career.
Rinne, 38 (11/3/82), retired after spending his entire 683-game NHL career with the Predators. He is etched in Nashville’s record books as the franchise leader in nearly every goaltending category, including games played, wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), total TOI (39,413:29), shutouts (60) and saves (17,627), and in NHL history, he sits 19th in shutouts and tied for 19th in victories. He finished his career with a record of 369-213-75.
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“For more than 15 years, I’ve been on an incredible, life-changing journey with the Nashville Predators that has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and given me more than I could ever hope to give back,” Rinne said. “This decision wasn’t easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time. As I announce my retirement, I’m thankful for my parents, sisters, fiancé Erika, everyone in the Predators organization – management, coaches and trainers – my teammates and my youth coaches back in Finland. Last but not least, I’m thankful for the people of Nashville. Each of you helped me grow into the man, father and person I am today.”
Winner of the 2018 Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, Rinne was also a finalist for the award three other times (2011, 2012 and 2015), a four-time NHL All-Star (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019) and was twice voted to the NHL’s year-end All-Star Teams, including a First Team nod in 2017-18. Rinne’s career goals-against average of 2.43 is tied for the fourth-best mark among goaltenders with at least 350 wins in NHL history, trailing only Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Jacques Plante. Further signifying his impact on the NHL’s record books, Rinne is one of 12 goaltenders in League history to notch at least 350 wins and 60 shutouts, with eight members of that group enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In addition to topping numerous Predators records, the Kempele, Finland, native retired as one of the best hockey players the country has ever produced, owning the most games played, wins and shutouts by a Finnish-born goaltender in NHL history.
“For years, Pekka has been the face of our franchise on and off the ice,” Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. “The role he played in making the Predators organization into something so much more than just a hockey team cannot be understated, and what he means to our team and community makes him one of the most special players and people you’ll ever meet. It’s cliché of what you would want from your best players, but Pekka gave us a chance to win in every single game he played and led our team during the most competitive era of our franchise. While we will miss his talent and leadership in our locker room, we want to congratulate him and his family on an exceptional career, and we’re all looking forward to seeing him continue to make a positive impact on our community in the years to come.”
Rinne went 10-12-1 in 24 appearances in 2020-21 and posted a shutout in the final game of his NHL career on May 10 vs. Carolina, a night that culminated with a standing ovation from the Bridgestone Arena crowd and a solo lap around the ice with his family in attendance. In June, he won the 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually to the “player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community,” a recognition of the 15-year commitment he has shown to improving the lives of everyone in the city he now calls home.
“It is impossible to properly express just how much Pekka means to the Predators organization and our entire community,” Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said. “His incredible career and milestones achieved are eclipsed only by his generous spirit and contagious passion for others. Pekka defines our franchise and truly embodies the spirit of SMASHVILLE; both are better because of him.”
Originally drafted by the Predators in the eighth round (258th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft, Rinne played in three games – including his League debut on Dec. 15, 2005, a 5-3 win over Chicago – before assuming the team’s No. 1 goaltender role in 2008-09. His rookie season, where he finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting, began a 13-year stretch in which Rinne led all NHL goaltenders in shutouts (60), was second in wins (369) and third in games played (680).
In 2009-10, his second season as a full-time starter, Rinne recorded the first of his eight career 30-win campaigns – one of eight goaltenders in NHL history to accomplish the feat – and followed it up with one of the best statistical seasons of his NHL tenure in 2010-11, posting career-bests in goals-against average (2.12) and save percentage (.930) en route to being named a Vezina Trophy finalist and earning a spot on the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. He closed out the 2010-11 season by leading Nashville to its first playoff series win in franchise history, taking down Anaheim in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals; during that postseason he claimed six of his 45 career playoff victories, tied for the 26th-most in NHL history.
Rinne recorded the first of his three career 40-win seasons – tied for the second-most such campaigns in NHL history and one of only seven NHL goaltenders all-time to do so – in 2011-12, leading the League with 43 while being named a Vezina finalist for the second year in a row. After missing parts of the following two seasons due to a hip infection that required surgery, Rinne’s 2014-15 campaign saw him earn another nod as a Vezina finalist thanks to a 41-17-6 record and 2.18 goals-against average. He was also named Nashville’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” the first of two such nominations in his career (2021).