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.
“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.
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).
The 2014-15 campaign kicked off a five-season stretch that saw Rinne win 178 of his 305 starts, post a 2.36 goals-against average and record 23 shutouts. His stellar regular season play carried over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where in that time span he was second among all NHL goaltenders in playoff starts (61) and tied for second in wins (32). The 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons saw Rinne and the Predators reach new heights – he led Nashville to its first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2017, and his Vezina-winning performance in 2018 helped the team earn the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time.
Rinne was instrumental in Nashville’s run to the 2017 Cup Final, topping his own franchise records for wins (14), games played (22), shutouts (2) and goals-against average (1.96) in a single postseason. In addition to winning the first two Cup Final games in team history, he began the 2017 postseason by helping the Preds sweep Chicago in the first round, becoming the fourth goaltender in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to win all four games of a playoff series while recording a goals-against average of 0.70 or less. He won the Vezina Trophy in the following season after pitching a career-high and League-leading eight shutouts and finishing first in save percentage (.927), even-strength save percentage (.939) and goals-against average (2.31) among goaltenders who played at least 50 games; in doing so, he became the first player in Predators history to win a performance-based NHL award.
His eighth and final 30-win season came in 2018-19, where he helped Nashville win its second consecutive Central Division title. He started all six of the team’s postseason games in 2019, giving him 89 career playoff appearances, the most in franchise history by a skater or goaltender, with all of them coming consecutively since his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in 2010. Rinne is one of four goalies in NHL history to start 89 or more consecutive playoff games with the same franchise, joining Brodeur (New Jersey), Patrick Roy (Colorado) and Henrik Lundqvist (NY Rangers).
He added to his long list of accomplishments on Jan. 9, 2020, when he became the 12th goaltender in NHL history to score a goal, and the seventh to do so via a shot on goal, in a 5-2 victory at the United Center over the Blackhawks.
Internationally, Rinne represented Finland on five occasions, most notably at the 2014 World Championship, where he helped lead his country to a silver medal and was named the tournament’s MVP. He competed for Finland in three other World Championship tournaments (2009, 2010 and 2015) – in his final Worlds appearance, he was named the best goaltender and set the tournament record for longest shutout streak at 207 minutes. He concluded his international career at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, suiting up for one game.
Prior to joining the Predators full-time, Rinne played three seasons for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals from 2005-08. He was twice named to the AHL All-Star Classic (2006 and 2008) and won an AHL-best 36 games for the Admirals, Nashville’s primarily AHL affiliate, in 2007-08. He began his professional career with Oulu Kärpät of the Finnish Liiga, winning back-to-back league championships in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
Off the ice, Rinne’s 2021 King Clancy victory was the result of a career spent dedicated to the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities and the Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub.
The bulk of his life-changing work has come through the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily, which he launched alongside former Predators Captain Shea Weber during the 2012-13 season. The fund works with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. Since the establishment of the fund, donations totaling more than $3 million have been made to the hospital and its programs.
In his very first full season with the team, after meeting Mike Maguire, a man with Down Syndrome, Rinne fostered a relationship with Best Buddies, a nonprofit advocating for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, that he has continued to keep to this day. In addition to his time spent with Maguire and his family, Rinne also attends the annual Best Buddies Prom and Gala at Bridgestone Arena, and to further show his dedication to the cause, had the organization’s logo painted on his helmet during the 2016-17 campaign.
Rinne also led the charge on several initiatives designed to bring joy and hope to the Nashville community during the COVID-19 pandemic. He participated in the team’s “Feed the Frontline” initiative, which delivered meals to every Metro Nashville Police Department precinct and Metro Nashville Fire Department station; provided more than 600 Chick-fil-A meals to Vanderbilt University Medical Center doctors, nurses and staffers; and partnered with Dunkin’ to provide $10,000 worth of free coffee for medical professionals in April and May 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.”