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Emotional Rinne Captures First Vezina Trophy

Nashville Netminder Named the League's Top Goaltender at NHL Awards

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Pekka Rinne couldn't help himself.

As he took the stage in Las Vegas and began his speech - for the first time as a Vezina Trophy winner - the emotions came rushing to the forefront.

He thought about his parents back in Finland, especially his father, Paivio, who will ultimately receive his son's trophy. He thought about his goaltending coaches who have helped him to become the player he is today. He thought about his teammates, his best friends, who he would do anything for. He thought about the fans in Nashville, the ones who have stood by him through thick and thin, always ready with a standing ovation for their netminder.

He thought about them all.

So, you'll have to forgive him if he got a bit emotional on stage.

But, if anyone has earned the right to do so, it's Rinne. And he couldn't wait to express his gratitude.

"I would be lying if I denied it, it does feel great," Rinne beamed shortly after the win. "Who knows, maybe it's my last time here in Vegas. I have been [to the NHL Awards] four times, so it does feel really good to win.

"I felt I had a good chance to win it… You don't want to admit it, but it's in the back of your head and you are thinking about it. It is a special time and special award."

Rinne became the first player in Predators franchise history to take home a performance-based trophy at the NHL Awards. Nominated for the Vezina on four occasions across his NHL career, it was the NHL's 31 general managers who cast 22 first-place votes to ensure Rinne would earn the hardware this time.

Video: Pekka Rinne is presented the Vezina Trophy

As per usual, Rinne served as his club's backbone during the 2017-18 season, leading the Preds to a franchise-record 117 points and the first Presidents' Trophy and Central Division title in franchise history. Out of goaltenders who played at least 50 games, Rinne was first in save percentage (.927), even-strength save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (2.31). He tied for first in the NHL in shutouts with eight, a career high, and was third in wins with 42.

But through all the numbers, what's even more impressive than Rinne the hockey player is Rinne the person.

His smile gave him away as he snapped photos with the trophy, first by himself, and then with some of those who mean the most to him.

Rinne made sure to include Predators General Manager David Poile, Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Goaltending Coach Ben Vanderklok - among those from the front office in attendance - as the flash bulbs continued, his disposition palpable in the room the entire time.

Video: Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne wins the Vezina Trophy

Rinne has been around long enough to know these opportunities don't come often. So, forgive him if he took a moment to step back and admire the trophy, to read the names of those who have come before him, and envision his own spot that will be engraved soon enough.

After four chances, it was finally his day. And as he strives to bring the ultimate prize to Nashville, he'll continue to remember those who got him here and will carry him forward.

For the first time, Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne can be affixed to the page. That's worth a bit of emotion.

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