The NHL kicked off awards season on Monday night with the announcement of this year’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner for “leadership qualities on and off the ice” and “noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” The 2020-21 recipient is none other than well-respected veteran goaltender Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, who beats out New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel for the honor.
A career Predator, Rinne has long been making his presence felt in the Nashville community in many ways. He has been an active member of the Best Buddies program and Make-A-Wish Foundation, has organized events for the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease, and stepped up in a major way during the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in the Predators’ “Feed the Frontline” initiative that provided meals to police and firemen and partnering with Chick-Fil-A and Dunkin Donuts to provide food to Nashville doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. However, Rinne’s greatest contribution to the community has been his leadership of the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, raising over $3MM for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Medical Center and bringing patients and their families to Bridgestone Arena to enjoy games from the 365 Fund suite, which he personally funds in full. For all he gives to his community, Rinne remains humble:
After spending 15 years with the same organization and in the same city, and with the opportunities I’ve had through local charities in my community – this is very special to me. At the same time, I want to congratulate P.K. and Kurtis on their nomination and for everything they do for their communities. I want to thank the Predators and the Predators Foundation for letting us players get involved and help in our community. I also want to recognize Shea Weber, who helped start the 365 Fund with me. This award means a lot to me and my family, and it’s a huge honor.
Predators General Manager David Poile also had plenty to say about Rinne’s deserving recognition:
I view the King Clancy Memorial Trophy as a lifetime achievement award of sorts, and Pekka winning this year is totally reflective of what he has done on the ice, but equally, if not more importantly, what he’s done off the ice in our community. For years, and for good reason, Pekka has been the face of our franchise and our most popular player. This is shown by the countless hours he’s spent working to make our community a better place and the sacrifices he’s made to make the lives of everyone around him better. Pekka is completely deserving of this honor, and our organization couldn’t be happier for him.
In honor of Rinne’s King Clancy victory, the NHL will donate $25,000 to the 365 Fund, an amount that the Predators have also promised to match. For more on Rinne’s contributions, the Predators provided this great video tribute to his work with kids. An impending free agent nearing the end of his career, if this is the last of Rinne in the NHL, it is a fitting sendoff for the star goalie.