Today we celebrate the 30th birthday of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, the franchise stalwart who has thrilled the fans and saved the team's bacon on a number of occasions.
So what do you get the guy who almost has it all? Well, an NHL season would sure be nice.
Superstar Goalie But a Regular Guy
Pekka is one of those players who you can't help but like. He's a world-class athlete, but seems to have no sense of ego about it. On one of the rare occasions last season when I made it to a practice, I was standing inside the locker room afterward near the entrance talking with J.R. Lind, when all of a sudden Rinne comes walking in. Let me tell you, when a 6'5" dude in full goalie gear and skates bears down on you, it looks like you're about to be trampled by a Transformer.
I was blocking the way in, and scrambled quickly to get out of the way... only to step right into his stall. I felt like a complete idiot, of course, here he's been on the ice for an hour, he's dripping with sweat, and I'm dancing back and forth like a squirrel in the road blocking his way. He didn't say a word about it, though, and was his usual, amiable self once he got to sit down and take his gear off.
Pekka Come Home
So anyways, since he's an ocean away right now toiling in the KHL, let's look back at some highlights from the last few seasons instead:
When it came time to strike a long-term contract and commit to Nashville, Pekka is the one guy out of the Big Three who stepped up to make it happen. As we all recall, Ryan Suter left via free agency as quickly as he could, and Shea Weber struck a mega-deal offer sheet with Philadelphia which forced the Predators' hand.
Is it any wonder why Peks is the fan favorite???
Happy Birthday, Pekka (and your twin sister, too).