Riding off into the Sunset

The Nashville Predators have only really known one goaltender during their short franchise’s existence, and now he's retiring.

Pekka Rinne Calls It a Career

What’s Happening: In an emotional and heart-felt post for The Player’s Tribune, long-time Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from professional hockey. It was a fitting way to announce his retirement from the game. Aside from perhaps Shea Weber, there likely isn’t another Predators player that is deserving of all the accolades and praise in one city. For most of this franchise’s existence, Pekka Rinne has been their number one goaltender.

Rinne debuted in Nashville in 2005 and has spent his entire career with the Predators organization. He retires with a lifetime goals against average of 2.43 to go along with 369 wins and a .917 save percentage. Among his biggest career achievements, Pekka was the winner of the Vezina trophy in 2018 and most recently, the winner of the King Clancy Memorial trophy in 2021 for his on and off-ice leadership abilities.

Rinne’s Legacy: It’s hard to dispute the fact that Pekka Rinne has undoubtedly left the biggest mark on the Nashville Predators organization. His career was highlighted by his remarkable consistency in net where he only posted one sub-.900 save percentage season in his 17-year career. When he first joined the Predators in 2005, they were struggling to gain a foothold in Nashville and discover their identity as a team. Throughout Rinne’s career as he and the team became more successful, it’s safe to say that Rinne played a huge part in making Nashville a legitimate hockey town today. After years of consistent play and a fun brand of hockey, the fans have flocked to Bridgestone Arena year after year to watch the Predators.

This blueprint of creating and retaining homegrown stars and winning with them is a model that many small-market American teams are trying to follow today, most notably the Carolina Hurricanes. Rinne’s legacy will always be that he played for one team only throughout his career and helped the franchise establish itself as a hockey market, but also the fact that he helped create a model for other American teams to follow in order to help grow the game.

What’s Next: As outlined in his Player’s Tribune retirement piece, Rinne intends to transition into full-time fatherhood. He realizes his priorities in life have changed and focusing on his family is the next step in his life. Could he one day find his way back into the game? There is a chance that Rinne could re-emerge in hockey in some form of management capacity. It’s hard to envision him joining any other franchise other than the one he has known his entire career, so look for him to possibly re-join the Predators in some capacity down the road.

As for the Predators, Rinne’s retirement is sad news, but the transition in goal has already happened. Rinne’s fellow countryman and a player who idolized him growing up, Juuse Saros, will now have the net full-time in Nashville. Saros has established himself as a blossoming and bright star in Nashville the past two seasons and officially took over the number one starter’s job in Nashville this past season. Like Rinne’s start in Nashville, the Predators are hoping to build a young core around Saros in the hopes of doing what they did when Rinne first emerged with the Predators: win as a collective group.

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