Pekka Rinne on Vezina Trophy: ‘It was a pretty surreal feeling’

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Pekka Rinne on Vezina Trophy, bond with Preds fans

INTERVIEWER: Drafted by the Nashville Predators. Spent three years in Milwaukee. Going into your 11th season as a Nashville Predators. You've seen the evolution of this organization, in the last decade especially. What does it mean to you to be-- to have seen and gone through everything you've done, and especially the last couple of years where you got a Stanley Cup Final and President's Trophy. What does it mean that you-- to you that you've done this all in Nashville?

- Well, it sounds crazy when you say it actually out loud. And as a player, not a lot of times you think about that. But first thought that comes to my mind is I'm so fortunate. And remember like it was yesterday when I was still playing in Milwaukee, which I loved. And it was so good for my future looking back now. And my first few years, playing with you, and then again a little later on in my career and in your career, and all the things that have happened, it's almost you have to pinch myself, kind of put things into perspective.

And any time you look back, you think about your childhood and everything like that, you dreamt about playing in NHL, and now that it's reality. And starting my 11th year in Nashville, I call it my home. And organization have been so good to me. And feel like I have a special bond with a lot of the people and a lot of the fans, too.

As a player, there's nothing more you want to do is win the ultimate goal and Stanley Cup. And two years ago, reaching so close to it. And even last year, even though our journey ended in the second round, I thought that we took another step to the right direction, having a super strong regular season. And that gives us a lot more experience going this year. And I'm very, very excited about this year.

INTERVIEWER: Last year you hit, like, a couple big milestones. 300 wins. You got to experience that here at Bridgestone. And that was one of my favorite moments from last year. Most shutouts in NHL history by a Finnish goaltender. What does that mean to be able to share with the fans, and you can just see the response that they gave you, and that relationship that you guys have built the last decade?

- Yeah. It gives me chills when I-- I'm a emotional guy. And I remember that game. And I got really emotional after that. And it was such a cool moment. It's hard to think of those individual goals and milestones, and, you know, playing a team sport. And you get so used to winning together and losing together and reaching these milestones together. And when it's something like that, it's-- those are the moments you look back, and you feel that you want to reach out to certain people and thank them for all the help you've gotten. And so it's-- it was awesome.

And going back to the fans, the way they reacted, I think that's what made me emotional. And I really feel like I have a special bond with all our fans and the way they support me. Don't get me wrong, I've had my ups and downs throughout my career. So even the lows, it has really helped me that I always feel that support. And any time I step on the ice in Bridgestone, it gives me a boost and it gives me a lift for sure.

INTERVIEWER: There's a couple of other seasons where you probably should have won the Vezina Trophy. You finally got to win that individual award. And I know you're the ultimate team guy. But it must have been nice to finally get recognized as the best goaltender in the regular season and the Vezina Trophy.

PEKKA RINNE: Yeah, I would be lying if I'd say anything else. But it was a pretty surreal feeling, taking in all that history, and all the goalies, all the history of the game. And it's a great feeling that now my name is going to be on that trophy for as long as the Vezina Trophy is going to be there. It's something that it's very important to me and my family. And so that was awesome.