Former Vezina winner and two-time All-Star Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from professional hockey earlier Tuesday.
The 38-year-old from Kempele, Finland spent 15 seasons in the NHL, tallying 666 starts, 369 wins, 60 shutouts and a career Goals Against Average of 2.43. Rinne was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 8th round (258th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
“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.”
Rinne spent his entire career with Predators, helping Nashville reach the postseason for the first time in 2004, as well as reach the Stanley Cup final in 2017.
Rinne retires as one of the best hockey players Finland has ever produced. He owns the most games played, wins and shutouts by a Finnish-born goaltender in NHL history.
His final start with the Predators took place on May 10, resulting in a 5-0 shutout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. At the end of the game, in front of the hometown Predators’ fans at Bridgestone Arena, Rinne received a standing ovation when skating a solo lap, signaling his appreciation to the crowd.
Away from the NHL, Rinne represented Finland multiple times on the international stage. In 2014 he helped Finland win Silver at the World Championships. In international competition, Rinne is 14-10 with a 1.88 Goals Against Average.
He was also named to the World Championship All-Star Team in 2014 and won the MVP of the tournament as well. At the 2015 World Championship, Rinne was named Best Goaltender.
In a note written to the fans and Nashville organization, Rinne released an article on The Players Tribune, a website dedicated to telling sports stories from the perspective of the player.
In the article, Rinne announced his retirement, thanked the fans and shared some of his best memories from playing in Nashville.
Before entering the NHL, Rinne made a name for himself in Finland, posting solid numbers in the SM-Liiga, Finland’s highest level of professional hockey.
He is a two-time SM-Liiga champion and also picked up an AHL All-Star Game nod in consecutive seasons from 2005 to 2007.
Rinne was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month in February of 2009 and was named to the NHL YoungStars Roster that same season.
The Nashville Predators have not retired any of their jersey numbers, but one would think that Rinne’s number 35 could be hanging in the rafters of Bridgestone Arena very soon.
Rinne’s decision to retire came after fielding numerous questions about potentially signing somewhere else in the off-season as a free agent.
He reiterated that he would always retire in Nashville and today cements his legacy as a Nashville Predator.