Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne retires from NHL, ending 15-season run

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A legend said goodbye to Nashville on Tuesday — and vice versa.

After 15 seasons, 772 games, 414 victories, 44,713 minutes spent wearing a Nashville Predators uniform and 19,978 pucks stopped, Pekka Rinne has retired from the NHL.

The 38-year-old left quite a legacy — on the ice and off. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2018 as the league's best goalie, helped lead the franchise to its only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2017, was a three-time All-Star and even scored a goal.

"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 in a statement. "This decision wasn't easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time.

None of the above was expected when general manager David Poile, on the advice of his Helsinki-based scout Janne Kekalainen, took a flyer on Rinne by selecting him with the last pick of the eighth round — 258th overall — of the 2004 NHL Draft. This after he was passed over in four previous drafts. This after he was pulled after allowing five goals in front of another Predators scout, who was seeing him for the first time. This was after 28 goalies were picked ahead of him in the same draft.

Off the ice, Rinne has been involved in many charities, including the Pediatric Cancer Fund, which has raised more than $3 million, and was named a finalist for the 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, an award that goes to the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community."

On the ice, he is the franchise record-holder for goalies in just about every statistical category — single season, postseason and career.

He has more wins, has played more minutes, has made more saves, has more shutouts (65) and more likely more fans than anyone to play for the team.

He was the first — and still one of the only — players given a full no-movement clause in his contract by Poile, a rarity.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Rinne not only minded net for the Predators for his entire career — he also minded his manners till the very end.

When asked about his plans after the 2021 season, Rinne, who became a free agent for the first time, politely declined to discuss whether he would consider signing with another team.

Really, though, that never was going to happen.

Rinne called Nashville home and said repeatedly he'd like to retire a Predator.

Now he has.

"That's the most important thing, just the love for the game," Rinne said in May, when asked about his plans. "I feel like I still have that."

Rinne's playing days might not be over, though. He has said returning to his native Finland to play was under consideration.

After years of mentoring fellow Fin Juuse Saros, Rinne settled into a backup role during the 2019-20 season. After starting 89 consecutive postseason games, Rinne did not play in the playoffs the last two years.

His legacy was something Rinne wasn't ready to discuss right after last season.

"I don't want to give my (retirement) speech yet," he said. "I'm so proud that I've been in one organization all of my career. ... It has changed my life."

Not to mention a franchise.

Rinne will be the first player in team history to have his number retired. Nobody ever will wear 35 again for Nashville.

Reach Paul Skrbina at pskrbina@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Pekka Rinne retirement: Predators goalie done after 15 seasons