Thursday, 09.11.2014 / 8:41 AM / News
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has had two surgeries on his hip in the past year, but he’s participating in informal skates this week and hopes to get his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after failing to qualify in back-to-back seasons.
“The hip feels great. I had a good summer. I worked hard and stayed healthy. I’m just really excited for this upcoming season. I feel like I’m ready to go,” Rinne told The Tennessean. “I still have to pay attention to it, but I don’t have to change anything. I don’t have to skip any training because of that. It feels normal. I feel like I have the strength back in my legs this summer. It feels great and it’s nice not to think about it all the time.”
Rinne first had surgery on his hip in May 2013 and appeared to be healthy at the start of last season, but the 31-year-old was sidelined by the end of October when the same hip became infected. Another surgery was required and Rinne didn’t play in another game until March 4. He finished the season 10-10-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 24 games.
But there is reason to believe Rinne will regain his form after his performance for Finland at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus, where he was named the tournament’s most valuable player, helping his team win the silver medal while compiling a 1.88 GAA and .928 save percentage in nine games.
“For me, the World Championship was good,” he said. “I did well over there and got more confidence going into the summer.”
A second straight season without postseason play led to a coaching change in Nashville. Barry Trotz, who had coached the Predators since the franchise’s inception in 1998, was replaced by Peter Laviolette. Trotz subsequently was hired as coach of the Washington Capitals, and Nashville’s longtime goalie coach, Mitch Korn, followed Trotz to Washington. Ben Vanderklok was hired to replace Korn, and Rinne said he’s excited about the new partnership.
“I’m 100-percent ready and have the full confidence in Ben,” Rinne said. “I’m sure we’re going to have a great partnership [and] coach and player relationship. I can’t thank Mitch enough. He has done a lot for me and he was a big person for this organization.”
The Predators open the season Oct. 9 at home against the Ottawa Senators.