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.
“My body still feels like it could compete at the highest level … but my decision was about a lot more than that,” Rinne wrote in an essay published to The Players Tribune. “Every time I looked at my son, at [my 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,” Predators general manager David 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 native Juuse Saros has long been viewed as Rinne’s successor in net, and had become Nashville’s primary starter last season. Saros, 26, is a restricted free agent.
Rinne was an eighth-round pick of 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. 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).