Sports

Predators G Rinne, 38, retires after 15 seasons

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL on Tuesday after 15 seasons.

Rinne, 38, played his entire career in Nashville and retires atop nearly every franchise goaltending category. He was an unrestricted free agent this summer after his two-year, $10 million bridge deal was set to expire.

“There were two options,” Rinne said Tuesday at a news conference. “Either retire or … continue playing with the Predators. And I appreciate [GM] David [Poile] and everybody else for giving me enough time to make this decision on my own and make a decision that I feel is the right tone. And deep down I do feel that.”

In an essay published to The Players Tribune, Rinne said family considerations also played a part in his decision to retire.

“My body still feels like it could compete at the highest level … but my decision was about a lot more than that,” Rinne wrote. “Every time I looked at my son, at [fiancée] Erika — I just felt like a different person, almost, if that makes sense. My priorities had changed, and my mind knew that, even if my body didn’t. And when I really thought about what it would mean to not come back to the rink at the end of the summer, it just felt like the right choice, and the right time.”

Rinne, a native of Kempele, Finland, won the 2018 Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender and was the 2021 recipient of the King Clancy Trophy, 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.”

“For years, Pekka has been the face of our franchise on and off the ice,” Poile said in a statement. “The role he played in making the Predators organization into something so much more than just a hockey team cannot be understated, and what he means to our team and community makes him one of the most special players and people you’ll ever meet. It’s cliché of what you would want from your best players, but Pekka gave us a chance to win in every single game he played and led our team during the most competitive era of our franchise.”

Fellow Finnish player Juuse Saros has long been viewed as Rinne’s successor in net, and he became Nashville’s primary starter last season. Saros, 26, is a restricted free agent.

“It’s a special relationship,” Rinne said of Saros. “I’ll be watching him, for sure. I already talked to him earlier, a few days ago. He’s up to speed.”

Rinne was an eighth-round pick by the Predators in the 2004 draft. He made his NHL debut in 2005 and became Nashville’s regular starter in the 2008-09 season. Since 2008-09, Rinne has 368 wins (which ranks second in that span, trailing only Marc-Andre Fleury), 60 shutouts (tied with Fleury for most) and a .917 save percentage.

Rinne finished his career with a record of 369-213-75.

Rinne led the team to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, which the Predators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“That whole run, the whole journey, it was so stressful,” Rinne said. “It also showed how difficult it is to win and really makes you appreciate and respect the trophy.”

He played in 89 consecutive playoff games, becoming just the fourth goalie ever to reach that mark with the same franchise, joining Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils), Patrick Roy (Colorado Avalanche) and Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers).

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