Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been named the team’s nominee for the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA), awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Rinne, who missed 51 games during the 2013-14 season due to hip surgery and a subsequent bacterial infection, has returned to the ice this season to post his second career, 40-win campaign to help guide the Predators to their first postseason berth since the 2011-12 season.
“Pekka Rinne is synonymous with us being successful,” Preds General Manager David Poile said. “The last two years, with Rinne not being at 100 percent, we didn’t make the playoffs either time. This year, he comes back, he’s the ‘old Pekka’ if you will, and now our team is not only back in the playoffs but one of the best teams in the NHL.”
Ranking within the League’s Top Five in wins, goals-against average and save percentage throughout the 2014-15 season, Rinne is currently just two wins shy of tying his career high and the Predators single-season franchise record of 43 victories in a single campaign.
In extra time this season, the Kempele, Finland, native is second in both goals-against average (1.26) and save percentage (.964) among netminders who have seen action in at least 15 overtime frames. Rinne ranks in the Top Five among Finnish goaltenders in NHL history in games played (fourth, 376), wins (third, 204) and shutouts (second, 36).
“We all knew how good he is, but it seems like he has taken it to a higher level this year,” Preds defenseman Roman Josi said. “You wouldn’t think it was possible, but he’s keeping us in every game. I can’t remember a time where we were out of a game… he’s been doing it consistently, and that’s really impressive.”
“He’s just so even-keeled,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Rinne. “He works hard every day, he’s professional in what he does, but he’s an even-keeled guy. He’s got such a great disposition about him as a person. Every day he comes in, he’s got a smile on his face, he works hard in practice and then he goes out a plays the way he does in games; from that sense, it’s a complete package.”
The Masterton Trophy winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and will be named at the 2015 NHL Awards on June 24, 2015 in Las Vegas.
Former Preds forward Steve Sullivan won the award in 2009.