Predators to unveil Rinne statue on March 25

A Pekka Rinne statue is coming to Bridgestone Arena. WSMV's Terry Bulger has the story.
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 6:36 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Nashville Predators will unveil a statue of former goaltender Pekka Rinne before the team’s game against Seattle at Bridgestone Arena on March 25.

Rinne, who played his entire 683-game NHL career in Nashville, retired in 2021 after 15 seasons. The announcement come 35 days ahead of the unveiling to honor Rinne’s historic jersey number – the first and only retired jersey in the history of the Predators organization.

“Pekka Rinne, who served as the face of the organization for more than 15 years, exemplifies what it truly means to be a Nashville Predator,” Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said in a statement. “Although Pekka remains the greatest player to ever wear our jersey, his contributions off the ice positively impacted all of those around him. Pekka was always putting smiles on faces through his community-changing programs including Best Buddies, the 365 Fund and Feeding the Frontlines. We are excited to permanently honor his long-lasting legacy on our organization and all of Smashville with a statue that will stand proudly on the Bridgestone Arena plaza for the many years to come.”

Rinne’s statue was commissioned through Scott Wise, a renowned sculptor and Predators season ticket holder based in Clarksville where he also works as a firefighter. The statue, which will stand at a total of 11 feet, 5 inches and weigh between 850-900 pounds, took about nine months to complete. Rinne’s actual gear including stick, glove and leg pads were used to make the statue’s bronze casting.

“Every Predators fan knows Pekka was instrumental in the evolution of hockey culture in Middle Tennessee and how much he has given to the community,” Wise said in a statement. “As a fan and sculptor, it’s an honor to be selected to pay tribute to Pekka, the Preds organization and the fans that have made Smashville a hockey town.”

Rinne remains as the franchise’s leader in nearly every goaltending category, including games played, wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), total TOI (39,413:29), shutouts (70) and saves (17,627). In addition to his Predators records, the Kempele, Finland, native also owns the most games played, wins and shutouts by a Finnish-born goaltender in league history.

“This is an unbelievable honor and something I would have never dreamed of when I began my career with the Predators,” Rinne said in a statement. “I am extremely grateful for the Nashville Predators organization, the city of Nashville and our fans. I feel very lucky to have spent my entire 15-year career with the Predators, and I am truly honored to receive this recognition.”

Originally drafted by the Predators in the eighth round (258th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft, Rinne was a staple of the Nashville community during his time with the organization. He won the 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually to the “player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ide and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community,” the result of a career spent dedicated to the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities and the Predators Foundation.

The bulk of his life-changing work has come through the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which he launched alongside former Predators Captain Shea Weber during the 2012-13 season. The fund works with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. Since the establishment of the fund, donations totaling more than $3 million have been made to the hospital and its programs.