Early indications are that little, if anything, in regard to Pekka Rinne’s performance gets lost in translation.
The goalie was one of four Nashville Predators who, as of late last week, had seized upon an opportunity to play elsewhere rather than wait for National Hockey League owners to cancel regular season games.
The latest to go was forward Craig Smith, who signed with KalPa Kupio of the Finnish Elite League on Oct. 2, which was 10 days before the Predators were scheduled to start the regular season at Detroit. Also playing overseas were defenseman Roman Josi with Bern and forward Patric Hornqvist with HC Red Ice of Switzerland’s first and second division, respectively.
Rinne, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, signed with Minsk Dynamo of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League on Sept. 25.
In his first two appearances there he was 1-1. His 2.01 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage were tops among the four netminders who had played for that team already in 2012-13. Albeit a small sample, it was consistent with what he has done for Nashville in recent years. He had a 2.39 GAA with a .922 save percentage last season and a 2.12 GAA and .930 save percentage in 2010-11.
Josi’s decision took him back to the team for which he played from 2006 through 2010. The 2008 second-round draft pick came to North America in 2010-11 and became a full-time NHL player last season.
European teams and clubs allowed for a limited number of NHL players to join their rosters for the duration of the lockout, which owners imposed Sept. 15 when the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players expired. By Sept. 28 all scheduled preseason games had been canceled. On Thursday, the league cancelled all games through Oct. 24 and the Predators lost their first seven contests.
The last time owners locked out players the entire 2004-05 season was lost. Then, more and more players signed with teams throughout Europe as the situation remained unresolved.