Three-hundred eighty four and counting. With his appearance Tuesday night in New Jersey, a 22-save performance and a 3-1 victory, Predators netminder Pekka Rinne set the Nashville franchise record for most games played by a goaltender with his 384th career contest, all with the Preds.
Rinne passed up Tomas Vokoun and his mark of 383 games played to set the new tally, a number that isn’t likely to stop growing anytime soon. And while names like Rinne, Vokoun and Dunham have become synonymous with Predators goaltending over the years, Mason, Ellis and Hutton also deserve more than their fair share of recognition.
Here’s a look back at the 16 masked men who have sported the big pads for the Preds.
Pekka Rinne – 2005-Present, 384 gp, 207-115-43 record
Career win No. 207 for Rinne came on Tuesday night in New Jersey, but it was just about 10 years ago when the Finn earned his first victory in his first NHL start, making 35 saves in a 5-3 Predators win over Chicago on Dec. 15, 2005. Since that night, Rinne has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy three times (2011, 2012, 2015) and has the franchise’s all-time record holder in career wins (207), shutouts (37), goals-against average (2.34), save percentage (.919), and now, games played.
“When I was drafted, it became a more realistic goal to play in the NHL, and I just need to thank Nashville for giving me the opportunity,” Rinne said Tuesday before his record-setting game. “I came over and played three years in Milwaukee, which was great to for me to learn the game, learn the language and lifestyle and I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to have the trust and a little bit of luck along the way too. It means a lot to me that I’ve been able to stay in one city and one organization.”
“I remember being at training camp and first seeing him come over from Finland to North America and the first time I saw him, I remember saying to [former Preds Goaltending Coach] Mitch Korn about how good Pekka was,” former Preds goaltender and now radio analyst Chris Mason
said. “I was blown away. I just said, ‘wow.’ The first day I saw him, I knew that he was going to be a superstar. He’s the Sidney Crosby, the Alex Ovechkin of goaltending. There’s two or three guys in this League that are at that level and Nashville has had one of them for 384 games.”
Tomas Vokoun – 1998-2007, 383 gp, 161-159-46 record
Vokoun appeared in 383 contests for the Predators from the club’s inaugural season in 1998-99 through 2006-07, amassing 161 victories during that time. The native of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic played in 73 games during the 2003-04 campaign, a mark that Rinne tied during the 2011-12 season for the most appearances in a single season by a goaltender.
Vokoun also guided the Preds to their first postseason appearance in 2004 against the Red Wings and recorded the club’s first playoff victory on April 11, 2004, a 3-1 final in Game 3.
“I really enjoyed it and I loved living in Nashville,” Vokoun said in December of 2014. “My first win, my first shutout, you can go down the list, and most of the things that I achieved came in a Nashville uniform. Looking back on my career, things would never have happened if I didn’t get my first win in Nashville. I loved playing there, I enjoyed every moment of it, and I enjoyed the city and the people. A lot of people will say that, but I genuinely enjoyed it.”
Mike Dunham – 1998-2002, 217 gp, 81-104-24 record
Before Vokoun took over the starting job in net for good during the 2002-03 season, it was Mike Dunham
who saw the majority of the work for the Preds from 1998 through the 2001-02 campaign. Claimed from New Jersey in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft, Dunham amassed 81 wins for the Preds in five seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers in December, 2002.
Chris Mason – 1998-2001, 2003-08, 2012-13, 135 gp, 58-43-12 record
After spending three different stints on the ice with the Predators, Chris Mason finds himself back with the organization, this time in the radio booth, but not before earning 58 victories in a Nashville sweater. Mason joined the Predators broadcast team as a radio color commentator for the 2015-16 season and called his first NHL game alongside the Voice of the Predators Pete Weber on Tuesday night in New Jersey.
Before that, Mason appeared in net for the Preds from 1998-2001, 2003-08 and once more during the 2012-13 season, including a 24-win campaign in 2006-07.
“Nashville gave me my start in the NHL and I just had a connection with the Nashville Predators philosophy,” Mason said. “It was kind of a feeling that everybody was in it together and it felt like you grew up with the organization. I played the first four years in Milwaukee and I got the call up here and there and I just felt like it had a special, unique feeling in professional sports. I just totally embraced that and I just feel that now they’re a mature, respected organization and you have teams modeling after how the Nashville Predators do things. That’s a really cool thing and such a compliment to the people in this organization.
Dan Ellis – 2007-10, 110 gp, 49-42-8 record
Dan Ellis inked a deal with the Predators on July 7, 2007, as a free agent, then proceeded to post a 23-10-3 record that season. Ellis appeared in two more campaigns with the Preds through 2010, recording 49 victories in the process before being traded to Montreal in the summer of 2010.
Carter Hutton – 2013-Present, 58 gp, 26-18-8 record
Posting 20 wins in his first full NHL season and first as a member of the Predators organization in 2013-14, Carter Hutton enters his third season with the club, serving as backup to Rinne. Hutton became the sixth 20-game winner in franchise history during that 2013-14 season, including a 6-0-1 record when facing 35 or more shots.
“He’s loved by his teammates and he’s an extremely hard worker,” Mason said of Hutton. “He’s already shown this first two years that he’s able to go in on short notice and that’s not easy to do because you’re sitting there for a month, three weeks, whatever the time is, and you’re watching the goalie play all the time. I know exactly how this is because I had to do it and it got harder as I got older… you had to be ready every single day and to be able to step in and do what Carter’s done. It’s comforting knowing that you have a guy that’s able to step in and do the job as well as he does.”
Hutton has a 26-18-8 all-time record with the Preds and has become a fan favorite for his third period commentary from the bench during the Predators television broadcasts.
Anders Lindback – 2010-12, 38 gp, 16-13-2 record
Originally selected by Nashville in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Anders Lindback dressed in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons for the Preds, recording a 16-13-2 record over that span. The 6-6 netminder, now a member of the Arizona Coyotes organization, has also seen time with Tampa Bay, Dallas and Buffalo.
Marek Mazanec – 2013-Present, 27 gp, 8-11-4 record
Currently with Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, Marek Mazanec
has seen time with the Preds in each of the last two seasons, including 25 games in the 2013-14 campaign when Rinne was injured. Nashville’s ninth choice, 179th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Mazanec posted an 18-18-9 record last season with the Admirals.
Eric Fichaud – 1998-99, 9 gp, 0-6-0 record
Jan Lasak – 2001-03, 6 gp, 0-4-0 record
Devan Dubnyk – 2013-14, 2 gp, 0-1-0 record
Brian Finley – 2002-03, 2005-06, 2 gp, 0-1-0 record
Magnus Hellberg – 2013-14, 1 gp, 0-0-0 record
Mark Dekanich – 2010-11, 1 gp, 0-0-0 record
Michael Leighton – 2006-07, 1 gp, 0-0-0 record
Wade Flaherty – 2002-03, 1 gp, 0-1-0 record