After a 15-year, Hall of Fame-worthy career, Pekka Rinne is hanging it up.
You could list off all the great stats and the Vezina Trophy and all that, but Pekka was simply the fucking man. He's a big part of the reason I fell in love with the Preds. I moved to Nashville from Atlanta in 2010 and had never really cared about hockey, because the Thrashers were never any good and then bolted for Winnipeg the following year anyway. But I remember watching the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Preds took down the Red Wings because it was such a big deal around town. And Pekka was not only great in that series, but has been in Nashville kicking ass ever since for as long as I've been a Preds fan.
I think it's inarguable that if you're compiling names for a Nashville sports Mt. Rushmore, Rinne is absolutely in the four. Hell, I think if you're doing a Mt. Rushmore of Tennessee sports figures, he's in the discussion right alongside Peyton Manning and General Neyland. And that's not only a testament to how much hockey has grown in Nashville in the last 20 years, but how great he's been on and off the ice. Again, he's just the man.
The Preds are in pretty great hands between Juuse Saros, who has already proven to be a quality NHL goaltender, and Iaroslav Askarov, who Nashville drafted No. 11 overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. But it's going to be an adjustment next season not seeing No. 35 suit up. Even when you know a player like that is coming to the end of his career, you still feel a little sad when it actually happens and you know you'll never get to see him play again.
But congratulations to Pekka on an outstanding career. I'm glad he spent the entirety of it in Nashville.