The Nashville Predators made the announcement Wednesday morning that Pekka Rinne’s number 35 was going to be retired on February 24, 2022. Soon after, we had a chance to talk to him and catch up with the Predators legend.
“I was actually taking our dog to the vet. She was totally fine, but I was sitting in my car when [GM] David [Poile] called me. He just congratulated me and broke the news. I think for half a minute I was just speechless. After that, I was really excited.”
It’s a pretty inauspicious venue for finding out that yours will be the first number retired in the team’s franchise history, but that’s what life is like right now for the retired Finnish netminder: normal.
The conversation turned to retirement and something else recently new to Pekka Rinne: fatherhood.
Retirement and Fatherhood
Rinne described how felt as opening night approached this season, “I was getting a familiar feeling in my stomach—that it’s game time and I’m in the wrong place, sitting at home. But after that passed, I was still happy with my decision and at peace with myself. It’s been amazing to spend more time with my family.”
The conversation turned to fatherhood, “Being a dad is absolutely the best. I’m enjoying every minute of it.” When asked to describe the best parts of fatherhood, he said, “To see his growth and how he learns something new every day. It’s hard to pick one thing.”
Of course, being back in Finland during the NHL season is definitely something new to Rinne and he seems to be adjusting quite well. “When you’re a dad you start to really appreciate the family time—time with grandparents.” He took this opportunity to point out that he and his family were actually visiting his parents’ house at the moment and that he was participating in the Zoom call from his old room. He smiled as he turned his camera to show how his father had collected all of his jerseys, team pictures, medals, and even referenced “some other stuff” on the other side of the room. A quick turn of the webcam revealed what appeared to be Rinne’s personal copy of the Vezina Trophy. Being home in Finland with his family makes for “a very simple life right now.”
Turning back to hockey, Rinne explains that he stays as up to date on the Predators as he can, talking to “the guys” and the front office staff, and mentions that Predators goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok sends him videos and keeps him involved. However, Rinne laments, “the only thing that doesn’t work with the Dad Life schedule is the eight-hour time difference—games start at 3 or 4 AM Finnish time.”
This led Rinne to reflect on his time in Nashville and how he would like to be remembered when people think of him. “I’ve always been a hockey player. I’m sure people will remember me from the ice, but I hope they remember me off the ice. I’ve never wanted to be recognized off the ice or seek publicity, but I’ve been fortunate to work with some charities [such as the 365 Fund] that are really close to me. Hopefully that work will always be there and continue. That’s my dream and I appreciate the Preds Foundation’s commitment to support me in that.”
As the conversation drew to a close, Rinne discussed his excitement about having his jersey retired. “When you skate into some of the older buildings, you see all the great players’ retired jerseys. It’s an unbelievable feeling, thinking about my jersey being retired. I never really thought about it. It was a total surprise when David [Poile] called me. Even though people talked about it when I announced my retirement, I never thought it would actually happen.” He continued, “Being the first Pred to have a jersey retired is a huge honor. When I came to the league, there had always been great Predators players and there always will be. I was fortunate to play for the same team for such a long time. In a moment like that, you start reflecting back and thinking about the players you’ve played with, the coaches you’ve had, and all the people that have helped along the way. Even thought they’re going to be celebrating me, it’s still a team effort. That’s how I look at it. And I get to share that special moment with everybody.”
He closed with a direct message to fans, “I miss you guys very much and can’t wait to celebrate in Febraury! It’s gonna be awesome to see the best fans in the league!”