NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Pekka Rinne, goaltender for the Nashville Predators, announced on Tuesday he will retire from the NHL after a 15-year career in the league.
Watch his announcement below:
"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."
During his 683 games with the Preds, the 38-year-old became a franchise leader in his position, with 369 wins, a 2.43 goals-against average, 39,413:29 total TOI, 60 shutouts and 17,627 saves. He's one of just 12 goaltenders in league history with at least 350 wins and 60 shutouts.
It's impossible to put into words what Pekka Rinne means to the Nashville Predators, the fans and the city of Nashville.— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 13, 2021
Thank you for the best 15 years, Peks. pic.twitter.com/4wBB639rBy
Rinne was the final pick of the now-extinct eighth round of the NHL draft in 2004. He is a four-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, winning the award that is given to the league's top goalie in 2018 while leading the Preds to the President's Trophy a year after the team played in the Stanley Cup Final.
With Rinne in goal, the Predators became known as one of the best defensive teams in the league and became a fixture in the playoffs. His magical postseason in 2017 helped carry the Western Conference’s eighth and final seed all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Preds eventually fell to the Penguins in six games.
The four-time All-Star gave way as Nashville’s starting goaltender late in 2020 as Juuse Saros emerged as one of the league’s rising, young stars. Rinne played sparingly down the stretch this season, making his last appearance in the regular-season finale on April 10 against Carolina. That night he was in vintage form, posting a shutout in the win, before receiving a lengthy standing ovation while he took a celebratory lap around the Bridgestone Arena ice after the game.
It felt like a proper send-off, but Rinne said after the game that he still felt like he wanted to play on in his career, even leaving the door open to signing with another team.
Three months later, Rinne is officially retiring as the backbone of a Predators franchise that has become one of the NHL’s most consistent teams. There’s already significant support among fans to make his No. 35 sweater the first to be raised to the Bridgestone Arena rafters.
"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."
During the past year, Rinne led the charge on several initiatives to help the Nashville community through the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the team's "Feed the Frontline" program, Rinne helped deliver meals to every Metro Nashville Police Department precinct and Metro Nashville Fire Department Station. The initiative also provided more than 600 meals to Vanderbilt University Medical Center doctors, nurses and staffers and partnered with Dunkin' to provide $10,000 of free coffee for medical professionals in the spring of 2020.
"Nashville has become my home, and I have tried to make this community a better place than when I first arrived," Rinne said. "Over time, I've learned what this organization is all about, and that's family. I'll cherish the memories and friendships I've made for the rest of my life."