NASHVILLE As the story goes, Pekka Rinne played so rarely back in his native Finland that the Predators' scout who found him based his opinions solely on what he saw in warm-ups.
The Predators drafted the goalie in 2004 four years after he became eligible, meaning that for four years no other team saw anything in him that made him worth gambling a pick on, even in the eighth round (a round that no longer exists), which is when Nashville took him.
Now, of course, Rinne leads the NHL in victories with 42, was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last year as the NHL's top goalie and could be again this year. In November, the Predators rewarded Rinne with a seven-year contract worth 49 million.
Not bad for a guy who could hardly get on the ice when he was 20. The player who kept Rinne off the ice was fellow goalie Niklas Backstrom, currently of the Minnesota Wild. The two exchange texts and phone calls throughout the season as much as the NHL's busy schedule permits and catch up durin...