Hockey Hero 1

Local Athletes Share Goals and Questions with Pekka Rinne

Feb. 22, 2018, Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have just iced the Sharks 7-1 and have cleared the rink to a standing ovation. However, the crowd does not sit or even stop cheering.

The reason? They are Rinne enraptured. Nashville’s great goalie, Pekka Rinne, has just stopped 33 of 34 shots to win his 300th game. The crowd demands an encore. Pekka skates back onto the ice, the lone figure in the spotlight, and Music City roars. He gently lobs his stick into the hands of one very lucky fan and then slowly glides to rinkside where reporter Kara Hammer awaits.

“Pekka,” she says. “Career win No. 300. What does this number mean to you?”

Pekka breaks into a shy grin. All 6-foot-5 of him. He is crying. He literally wipes tears from his cheek his with his goalie hockey mitt. Does he sleep with it? He is truly something special. He doesn’t talk about himself. He thanks the team. He thanks the fans. Even his lack of idiomatic English charms.

“It is nice to have your third hundred win, like this,” he says before apologizing for his tears. “I’m sorry. I guess emotional.”

The fans cheer even louder. They love him. We love him. And why not? Pekka’s spirit is brighter than his jersey he wears. Pekka helped create the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund. At each home game, two suites full of cheering fans were more than likely that same day at Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital, facing other challenges. Thanks in large part to Pekka, this initiative raises significant money for cancer research.

But Pekka doesn’t only give money—he also gives his time and his friendship, visiting the families frequently at the hospital and communicating with them regularly throughout their children’s treatment.

“Pekka leads by example,” observes Rebecca King, senior director of community relations with the Predators. “On and off the ice, his heart of gold is a huge asset to our team and community.”

To celebrate this gentleman behind the fearsome mask when he’s got his game face on, Urban Nashville Lifestyle has commissioned a portrait from renowned Nashville artist Roy Laws. The painting not only graces the cover of our premiere issue, but it will also be our first way to give back to Smashville as well. Acrylic on canvas, 36-by-48 inches, the sale of this work of art will benefit Pekka’s mission to help the kids fighting cancer. 

Go, Pekka! Go, Preds!

"Pekka leads by example. On and off the ice, his heart of gold is a huge asset to our team and community."