Predators to retire Rinne’s jersey Thursday night

Raiders to hire McDaniels as new coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pekka Rinne, who led the Nashville Predators to their lone Stanley Cup Final in 2017, is adding another first to his long list of accomplishments.

The longtime goaltender becomes the first player to have his jersey retired by the organization when the Predators raise Rinne’s No. 35 to the rafters before Thursday night’s game against Dallas.

“A huge honor. It is. I consider myself very fortunate. There’s been a lot of great players in this organization over the years, but also I realized that I was lucky enough to play for a long time for this organization and that’s obviously a big thank you to (general manager) David (Poile), as well,” Rinne said.

“He believed in me and gave me an opportunity and I was able to have a long career here. Obviously that creates a connection to this organization and to this city. I think that’s obviously a big reason why I’m sitting here today.”

Not bad for someone whose biggest hockey hopes had been to play for Finland’s national team. Then Rinne was selected by Nashville with pick No. 258 in the 2004 NHL draft and everything changed.

“After that, I started setting goals and dreams and started dreaming about the NHL way more,” Rinne said. “Then good things started happening. Early on, I wasn’t the most talented player growing up. After that, it’s like a positive cycle start and a lot of good things happen.”

Rinne announced his retirement in July after capping his career May 10 in Nashville’s regular-season finale, a 5-0 win over Carolina.

He started that game, tying Tom Barrasso for No. 19 in NHL history with his 369th victory. It also was his 60th career shutout.

Center Ryan Johansen pushed Rinne out for a lap around the ice after that final shutout. Johansen said Thursday he’s a fan of Rinne, too.

“I think he might be one of the most respected guys to ever play this game that will have his jersey retired,” Johansen said.

Nashville acted quickly after Rinne retired, announcing plans in November to retire his jersey.

Celebrations honoring Rinne started Monday when a goat at the Nashville Zoo was named after him. Capping the festivities will be the the Predators hosting reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay at Nissan Stadium on Saturday.

Rinne said he’s very proud of Nashville for finally hosting its first outdoor game. He sees this week as bringing great exposure to the franchise and city around the NHL. Nashville previously hosted the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend.

“Going back seven, eight years, I wasn’t thinking about playing an outdoor game or having things like this happening in Nashville,” Rinne said.

Rinne is a big reason why the franchise even remains in Nashville after signing a seven-year extension in 2011. The 2018 Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goaltender, Rinne was 369-213-75 in his career. The native of Kempele, Finland, also has the most games played, victories and shutouts by a Finnish goalie in NHL history.

“It’s pretty special, especially as a Finn,” Predators goalie Juuse Saros said of the goalie he lived with when he first arrived in Nashville. “I kind of always had a feeling this night would come, and I wanted to be here for that. It’s awesome.”

Rinne’s career goals-against average of 2.43 is tied for fourth-best among goalies with at least 350 wins in NHL history, behind only Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Jacques Plante. He also is one of 12 goalies in NHL history with at least 350 wins and 60 shutouts.

Rinne had three 40-win seasons, tied for second-most in NHL history as one of seven goalies to reach that mark. He was fourth in Hart Trophy voting in 2011 after Nashville won a playoff series for the first time.

Source: ESPN NHL

    

Author: Ellen Garcia