A newspaper in Finland has indicated that their local hockey team, Oulun Karpat, has been in conversation with Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne about signing with Karpat after his contract with the Preds ends this summer.
This according to Kaleva, a newspaper serving the Oulu area of Finland and which covers the Karpat (the “Ermines”) hockey team extensively.
In a story published on May 6th, Harri Aho, the Sports Director for Karpat, mentioned they were in “active conversations” with Pekka Rine about joining their team following Rinne’s departure from the NHL. The story goes on to mention that Rinne has not indicated whether 2020-21 will be his final year in the NHL, though a story published by The Athletic in March mentioned that he “wants to retire a Predator.”
So unless a contract extension with Nashville is in the works, this could be Pekka Rinne’s final year in the NHL and he could head off to his original hockey team in Finland.
Rinne played for Oulun Karpat between 2000 and 2005, developing as a young goalie behind fellow Finnish NHLer, Niklas Backstrom. After being drafted in 2004 by the Nashville Predators, Rinne left Karpat for the NHL, beginning his eventual 15-year career for the Preds.
The article also mentions that Rinne “has had a dream” to play for Oulun Karpat upon the completion of his NHL career. Using Google translate (sorry, I do not speak Finnish), the article indicates this alongside the mention of Rinne’s possible retirement:
“The contract for [Rinne], which was overshadowed by Juuse Saros in the country town, will end this spring, and at the same time the man’s extensive NHL career is over.
…the ball is completely in [Rinne’s] fingers…
…Pekka has had a dream to play in Kärpi, Aho revealed.”
The entire article can be accessed here, though it is paywalled and written in Finnish. Other Finnish newspapers have also mentioned the possibility of Rinne leaving the NHL to play hockey in his home country over the past month.
Everything seems to be pointing to this being Pekka Rinne’s final year in the NHL. If you trust his sentiment from a couple months ago, that he wants to retire a Nashville Predator, it doesn’t seem likely he will return in 2021-22, with Juuse Saros clearly the Preds’ first choice in net.
If that’s the case, and if at the same time Pekka Rinne wants to continue playing hockey, your best chance to see your favorite Finnish netminder again might require a trip to Oulu, Finland.
— Featured image via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports —