Our friend Neil Bristow, from Edmonton, recently completed an extensive interview with Predators goaltender, Pekka Rinne. We thank Neil for giving us permission to publish the interview in it's entirety.
Neil has written extensively for several media outlets over the years and is currently posting his new stuff and the best of older interviews at TheNeilShow. This is a good site to add to your reading list.
ThEnEiLsHoW: Neil Bristow sits down and talks to Nashville Predators Goalie Pekka Rinne.
Neil Bristow - First off, I would like to congratulate you on an amazing first season with the Nashville Predators (52GP, 29 wins, 15 losses 2.38 G.A.A 9.17 SV %). Having a great rookie year in the goaltender position is not typically seen at this level. Can you talk a little bit about your
biggest highlights in your first full season in the net in the Music City?
Pekka Rinne - Thanks. I think the biggest highlight for me was playing many games and winning most of them. Obviously my first shutout was something I remember for the rest of my life. Also the youngstars game in Montreal was a great experience. Just playing first full season in the NHL was a highlight itself.
Neil Bristow - What is the best part about playing in a city like Nashville? Is it a fun city to play in, and what's it like living in Tennessee?
Pekka Rinne - It`s a great city. People are so nice and friendly. Nashville is really laid back and easygoing city, it was really easy to fit in and feel comfortable on and off the ice.
Neil Bristow - During the offseason what training and preparation do you do to get ready for the upcoming season? Do you train with any other NHLers or Preds in the summer?
Pekka Rinne - After the season I normally take 3 weeks off and just enjoy being back home in Finland. During the months of June and July I do only off ice training that consists weight training, running, explosive training (jumps, plyos, etc.) In the end of july we go on the ice and start preparing for the upcoming season. I train with couple NHL players from my hometown, Oulu and with my old team Karpat Oulu.
Neil Bristow - Who is your closest teammate on the Preds? Also, who is your closest friend in the NHL?
Pekka Rinne - I have many close friends on the Preds. My closest friend in the NHL is Rich Peverley (Atlanta) and Mika Pyorala (Philadelphia).
Neil Bristow - What aspects of the game would you like to work on to bring the Preds to the playoffs once again? What areas, in your opinion, do you think the Predators need to improve on to make it to the playoffs?
Pekka Rinne - I think if we can play full season at the level we finished last season, we are in playoffs. This year we need to have good start and go from there. I`m still learning and that never ends...I can be better in every aspect of the game of a goalie.
Neil Bristow - This upcoming season the Preds are going to rely on you even more for your solid goaltending. The so-called scouting report on you by "hockey experts" said one flaw in your game is that you can wear down if you are over- worked. What are your thoughts on those reports?
Pekka Rinne - I enjoy games where I have to work hard and make many saves. I think playing lot of games in the AHL helped me a lot. You just have to be in the best physical shape you can.
Neil Bristow - Who, in your opinion, is the most under- rated Predators player? What do they bring to the team that deserves more recognition?
Pekka Rinne - Joel Ward had a great first season in the NHL. He showed he can be put in to any situation on the ice and he`s still effective. I think he deserves more recognition.
Neil Bristow - The focus of recent sports new has been the on-going steroids problem in Major League Baseball. Do you think the NHL does sufficient Performance- Enhancing drug testing to make sure the same problem doesn't happen in hockey?
Pekka Rinne - Yes, I think so. We were tested many times last season. I think they are doing a really good job.
Neil Bristow - Can you share with us what the NHL’s drug-testing procedures are like? Is the testing random or scheduled, and how many times a year are you guys tested?
Pekka Rinne : It is random testing and they test every player individually, you can`t leave the rink until you are done testing.
Neil Bristow - Former NHLer, and St.Louis Blues, Tony Twist has said that there were PED'S in the NHL when he was playing. Would you be surprised if a player, current or retired, was caught using Performance Enhancing drugs?
Pekka Rinne - I would be very surprised if somebody would be caught using PED`s.
Neil Bristow - Your contract with the Nashville Predators expires in the 2010 season. Would it put you at ease to work out a new contract soon, or are you happy going into the final season of your deal?
Pekka Rinne - It`s something you are obviously aware of, but I`m not going to stress about it. I think if you keep doing the right things and work hard, everything`s going to work out eventually. Biggest thing is getting back to game form and getting better as a team.
Neil Bristow - Your teammate Steve Sullivan just finished re-signing with the Preds this summer. What does a player like Steve Sullivan bring to your club on and off the ice?
Pekka Rinne - It`s a huge confidence boost for our team and our fans. He`s an elite player and great person. It tells a lot about him, when he came back last year after missing two seasons, the level he performed since that was unbelievable. He`s one of our leaders on and off the ice.
Neil Bristow -You had an unbelievable World Championship IIHF for Finland with a .926 save percentage and a 1.93 GAA, with a shutout. What was your most memorable moment of that tournament and can you tell us a little bit about that experience?
Pekka Rinne - Most memorable moment was the first game against Norway, it was my first national team game and we won the game 5-0. Also, beating Canada was other highlight. Tournament was a great experience, it was honor to play for my country. We had a really good team and we played against some great teams. Unfortunately, we lost quarterfinal game against USA.
Neil Bristow - After playing in the World Championships this spring, do you see yourself competing for a spot with Finland in the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver?
Pekka Rinne - There many great Finnish goalies in the league right now, but yes, I feel that I have a chance make the Olympic roster. My goal is to have a good start to the season and be in the mix when they make the decision.
Neil Bristow -I was rather disappointed with the NHL not naming you as a finalist for the Calder trophy during the NHL Awards. In my opinion, starting out in the NHL as a goalie has to be the hardest position to have a break-out season. Were you a little shocked or disappointed at not being named a finalist?
Pekka Rinne - No I weren`t. I didn`t even think about the whole thing until at the end of the season a reporter asked my opinion about it. I think Steve Mason was a right choice.
Neil Bristow -Fans are often curious about what an off-season consists of for NHL players. What do you like to do when you’re away from the hockey rink? How did you spend your summer? Did you do any travelling, etc. this off-season?
Pekka Rinne - I did some traveling. I went to Croatia for a week, which was great. Also, I went to Paris, France for a five days. Other than traveling I did couple fishing trips around northern Finland and Sweden. During the off-season I try to spend time with my family and friends as much as possible.
Neil Bristow -Can you tell me what music you are into right now or your favorite song at this moment?
Pekka Rinne - I like rock music. But I`m starting to get into country music as well. My favorite song would be something from Neil Young.
Neil Bristow -Outside of Hockey, do you follow any other sports (football, soccer, baseball) If so, what teams do you follow? Who is your favorite athlete, and why?
Pekka Rinne - I follow soccer, especially the English Premier League. I cheer for Liverpool. My favorite athlete is Roger Federer, he is amazing athlete and the way he carries himself on and off the court is something I really admire.
Neil Bristow -I personally would like to thank you for giving me the time once again to do this with you. Do you have a message for Preds fans for the upcoming season?
Pekka Rinne - Thank you, Neil. Preds fans keep cheering us, you are our 7th man on the ice. I believe we`ll have many great moments this season!
I would like to say “thank you” to Pekka Rinne for giving me the time, once again, to interview him. I have done a lot of interviews in the last 4 years and I must say Pekka Rinne is one of my favorites.
He is a professional at so many levels and one of the nicest players I have had the chance to know. I wish Pekka Rinne, and his teammates, nothing but the best of luck and much success this upcoming season for the Nashville Predators. The city of Nashville and their fans have a truly great talent in between the pipes and I think you will see the rewards very soon. Good Luck Pekka!
I have started a “blog” type page to let everyone see my interviews. You can find the Pekka Rinne interview, and I will be putting up my old interviews from the last few seasons for you guys and gals to read. Please stop by and check out The Neil Show Blog.
Neil Bristow for PredsOnTheGlass