Five memorable moments Pekka Rinne had with the Nashville Predators
Officially, Pekka Rinne played 44,713 minutes in a Nashville Predators uniform.
That accounts for his entire 15-year career, which officially ended when Rinne announced his retirement Tuesday.
During those 2,682,780 seconds — or 745 hours — Rinne cemented his place on the Mt. Rushmore of Nashville professional sports. Rinne, the 258th pick of the 2004 NHL draft, the face of a franchise born in 1998, announced his retirement from the NHL after 6,225 days with the team.
The time he spent — and smiles he created — off the ice during his time with the Predators, with various charities and public appearances and behind-the-scenes meet-and-greets after games far exceeds what he spent in pads and skates.
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Choosing five moments from the so many memorable ones he had wearing No. 35 isn't easy. It certainly can be debated for the guy from the Finland countryside.
But here's our crack at it:
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Good to goal
His job was to prevent goals, which he did 19,978 times in his career. His goal was to score one. On Jan. 9, 2020, in Chicago, Rinne did.
His 185-foot prayer, answered inside an empty net at the United Center against the Blackhawks, was followed by a trademark smile and embraces from teammates when Rinne became the 12th goalie in league history to score.
"I'm not going to lie, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing so I really enjoyed it," Rinne said of the goal, which occurred with 22 seconds remaining in a 5-2 victory. "It was an awesome feeling seeing the puck go in."
Miracles on ice
Twice he'd finished second, once third, but in 2018 Rinne was recognized as the best goalie the NHL in the best regular season in Predators history when he was awarded the Vezina Trophy.
He had a league-best eight shutouts that season, 27.5 goals saved above average, also tops, and he was 42-13 to help the Predators to their first Presidents' Trophy and first division title in franchise history.
Rinne didn't go to Vegas in the summer of 2018 to gamble. He went there to collect his winnings during the NHL awards ceremony at the Hard Rock in Sin City, making him the first Predator to win a major award in franchise history.
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"This year, I felt that I had a good chance to win it," Rinne said then. "You don't want to admit that, but it's in the back of your head and you're thinking about it. It's a special time and a special award."
He struggled in the postseason that year, one removed from the team's first and only Stanley Cup Final appearance.
It took 11 seasons to get there. But in 2017, against all odds, the Predators reached their first Cup Final, in large part because of Rinne. They were the last to qualify for the postseason. And the last team most people expected to be among the last two playing.
In the end the Pittsburgh Penguins proved to be the better team. Rinne had a 1.96 goals-against average that postseason, and a .930 save percentage. He also played the most games (22), had the most wins (14), the most shot against (599) and the most saves (557) of any goalie during those playoffs.
First of all
On Dec. 15, 2005, Rinne, fittingly, made 35 saves against the Chicago Blackhawks in his first appearance in a Predators uniform. It was the first of 369 regular-season victories for Rinne, whose only other appearance that season was in relief four months later against the Hawks.
Almost another year passed before he played for Nashville again, also against the Blackhawks. He started 49 games in 2008-09. And the rest became history while Rinne made Predators history in just about every statistical category.
Rinne's goodbye happened to happen May 10, 2021, in the regular-season finale. Fittingly, he shut out the Carolina Hurricanes, then took a victory lap that felt like a curtain call after a 5-0 triumph against the Central Division champions.
He made 30 saves in his 60th career shutout. The crowd didn't want to leave the arena, Rinne didn't want to leave the ice.
Turns out, it was the last time he'd start for the Nashville Predators.
Rinne, who didn't play in the postseason, said he would take some time to consider his future, which could include playing hockey in his hometown in Finland or could consist of spending as much time as possible being a first-time father.
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