There was a new goaltender on the ice during Wednesday's session of Predators training camp - big, athletic, never gave up on a shot - an impressive showing, to say the least.
So maybe the No. 35 jersey was familiar after all, but making his first on-ice appearance of the season with the Preds since returning from representing Finland at the World Cup of Hockey, Pekka Rinne's energy was palpable, ramping things up just a tad as a mostly veteran group skated in the early afternoon.
Indeed, Nashville's stud netminder is back in town - much to his excitement, and everyone else around him.
"He's a leader around here and everyone loves seeing him," Captain Mike Fisher said. "In practices, games, he works so hard. He brings the level up by the way he competes, and it's good to have him back."
It was a positive summer for Rinne, who began his offseason regimen earlier than normal to prepare for the World Cup, and he believes that work will benefit him in the coming months.
Video: Goaltender Pekka Rinne on WCH and upcoming season
"I think it's going to give you a little bit of a jump start," Rinne said of the game action he's already received. "At the World Cup, it was a great experience; it didn't go like we planned, but it was a great experience. Just going on the ice a little bit earlier than usual in the summer, I think it's only going to help at the beginning of the season. Right now, of course my focus is on being back on the ice with my teammates and getting back in a game shape, but feeling good so far, really good."
The Predators are hoping and expecting that early start will mean good things for the 33-year-old, who is set to begin his eighth consecutive season as the club's No. 1 puck stopper.
"His whole career, he's been an elite goaltender and were counting on him to be the backbone of this team," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's a guy that's capable of winning hockey games for us. He has for two years, and we expect nothing less than that from him going into this year."
Rinne expects the same from himself, and the work he put in during the offseason - physically and mentally - is something that could prove to be just what was needed to continue his status as one of the top goaltenders in the world.
"Just getting a good rest, first of all, after the season, and mentally getting back to just being myself; I think that's what's the most important thing is being happy and feeling good about yourself," Rinne said. "But then getting back to work, I had a really good summer, stayed healthy, worked hard, and I think just the fact that we had the World Cup, I think that was something that was in the back of my mind the whole time in the summertime and just made me work really hard. Hopefully I can show it on the ice and hopefully things start well for me right way, but I'm confident that I had a really good summer."
Video: Peter Laviolette discusses the return of Pekka Rinne
That confidence is key in any position, but especially that of the goaltender. Even at 33, Rinne is still a student of the game, knowing that one save extra save could mean the difference between a win and a loss, and he wants nothing more than to still be the guy his teammates count on when it matters most.
"Even when you play a long time, you learn something new for yourself," Rinne said. "Some days, you have ups and downs, and for sure that was me last year, but it's a new season and I'm super excited."
Preds forward Craig Smith, who left Tuesday's game at Florida and did not return, skated with his teammates today during their session. Defensemen P.K. Subban (upper-body) and Ryan Ellis (upper-body) both skated prior to the group sessions.
Nashville signed 2016 second-round pick Samuel Girard to a three-year, entry-level contract on Wednesday.
The Preds travel to Columbus on Thursday to face the Blue Jackets in their third of six preseason games. The 6 p.m. CT start can be heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. A live video stream of the contest, via the Blue Jackets, will also be available to desktop viewers.