It seems fans across the NHL are officially recognizing what Nashville Predators fans have known for years: Pekka Rinne is an award-winning goalie. Friday afternoon he added a unique, new honor to his career stats and got his Vezina some company by winning the NHL Fan Choice Award for Goal of the Year.
An unlikely candidate for scoring the goal of the year, Rinne beat out forwards Connor McDavid, Andrei Svechnikov, and Matthew Tkachuk for the 2020 Goal of the Year. Nashville’s much-loved Rinne garnered 42.3% of the vote, with McDavid coming in second with 25% of the vote. Rinne’s goalie goal in the January 9 win over the Chicago Blackhawks is the first goal for Rinne in his career, but the second goalie goal for the Predators franchise (the first was scored by Chris Mason, who coincidentally was on the call for the game when Rinne found the back of the net).
In case you missed this award-winning score (or just want to see it again...and again...and again...no one here at OTF would judge you for that), here is the Best Goal of 2020:
Rinne’s goalie goal was a highlight in an often tumultuous season for Rinne and for the Predators overall. A strong start in October, a struggle in November, a painful Winter Classic loss to the Dallas Stars on New Year’s Day, and issues of consistency eventually led to the firing of Peter Laviolette and the hiring of new head coach John Hynes in early January. Rinne’s goal came just days after the team welcomed Hynes.
Shortly before the 2019-2020 season was suspended in March due to concerns about COVID-19, Rinne’s struggles in net had more frequently relegated him to the backup position for the Predators behind a more confident and consistent Juuse Saros. As teams gear up to begin official training camps next month, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the goalie situation for the Predators and see how Saros and Rinne each return to the ice for the modified playoff scenario.
Regardless, Rinne’s goalie goal will remain a part of Predators and NHL history. Decades from now Predators fans will reminisce about where they were when they saw Pekka Rinne score, and how hearts in Smashville melted seeing his smile as his teammates celebrated with him.