By Jim Diamond
For the second time in his career, Pekka Rinne has been named as the Predators’ Masterton Trophy nominee for the 2014-15 season as selected by the Nashville chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The award is presented on behalf of, and voted upon by, the membership of the PHWA.
After a 2013-14 season that was taxing both physically and mentally, Rinne is enjoying a bounce back campaign and has led the Predators back to the playoffs after missing out the last two seasons.
Following an offseason hip surgery, Rinne developed an E. coli infection in that same hip in October 2014, sidelining him for 51 games. After the potentially life-threatening infection cleared up, he returned for the final month of the season and played for Finland at the 2014 World Championships, where he was named MVP.
Rinne carried over his strong performance at the worlds into this season. He is tied for the NHL lead in wins with 41.
In the summer of 2006, Rinne was injured by a Finnish pizzeria shop owner, who attacked the goaltender with pepper spray and then tackled him to the ground, causing an injury to his shoulder, which required surgery to correct.
To scout Rinne, the Predators had to show up early to Karpat games. Rinne was the backup goaltender, so they had to make their observations based on warmups. Nashville took him in the eighth round (258th overall) in 2004 when he was 21-years-old.
To put his late draft position into perspective, the NHL Draft now consists of just seven rounds and a total of 210 picks.
Rinne didn’t become an NHL starter until he was 27, but he has now surpassed 200 wins. He leads the franchise in wins and shutouts.
Rinne is active in Best Buddies of Tennessee, which works with individuals who have developmental disabilities. Rinne and team captain Shea Weber have purchased suites to all home games, where they host pediatric cancer patients and their families.