With Pekka Rinne now practicing in Nashville, the next logical step for the Finnish goaltender in his recovery process will be to get into game action. Though it is possible that Rinne might jump right into the lineup for Nashville when he’s ready, another possibility, discussed recently by Lavender, is that 31-year-old might play some trial games in Milwaukee to shake off the rust and see how he feels.
That’s exactly what was discussed today in a Canadian/Associated Press article. In the article Rinne is quoted, stating:
“The next step is playing games, and hopefully that is really soon here.”
The article also states that:
The Predators, who return from the Olympic break hosting Tampa Bay on Thursday, could have Rinne play some games soon in Milwaukee with their American Hockey League affiliate.
Milwaukee’s next two upcoming games are both at home, Wednesday vs. Grand Rapids and Friday vs. Iowa. Nashville returns from the Olympic break at home vs. Tampa Bay on Thursday and then hosts Winnipeg on Saturday.
Earlier today John Glennon of the Tennessean also stated that a short stint in Milwaukee would make sense for Rinne:
It would seem logical that Rinne would spend some time in Milwaukee of the American Hockey League before playing for the Predators, but that’s not a certainty. The Predators return to action on Thursday, but Trotz said Rinne would not play in that game.
Glennon also quoted Rinne, who seems optomistic that he’ll be cleared at some point this week to return to game action:
“I feel like it’s coming. I’m not too nervous anymore. I feel really optimistic about it that I’m going to get the go-ahead this week at some point and that’s all I care about. In practice, we’ve done everything we possibly can to kind of simulate game action and whatever situations you might face. The next step is playing games. Hopefully that’s really soon here.”
Rinne is set to meet with Nashville coach Barry Trotz later today to decide how to move forward. Yesterday Rinne was quoted in the Tennessean, stating that in today’s practice that he was hoping to work on shootouts and breakaways:
“I need to get back on that because with this last stretch of games, there’s going to be games that come down to that,” he said. “I need to be comfortable with (shootouts) again. But the next step after that is playing games. If everything goes well here, I might be going to Milwaukee for a few games, but that’s still up in the air.”
In case Nashville does send Rinne down for conditioning, here’s a little information on what that could entail, courtesy of On the Forecheck’s Dirk Hoag last spring. Hoag wrote about the process last year when Nashville sent Brian McGrattan, Matt Halischuk and Craig Smith down to Milwaukee on seperate conditioning assignments.
NHL Conditioning Assignment Rules (via Hoag):
13.8 Conditioning Loan. Unless a Player consents, he shall not be Loaned on a Conditioning Loan to a minor league club. Such Conditioning Loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) consecutive days. The Commissioner may take whatever steps he deems necessary to investigate the circumstances under which a Player is Loaned on a Conditioning Loan. If the Commissioner has reason to believe or determines that the Club has used the Conditioning Loan to evade the Re-Entry Waivers, or otherwise Circumvent any provision of this Agreement, he may take such disciplinary action against the Club, as he deems appropriate. The Player shall continue, during the period of such Conditioning Loan, to receive the same Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, and be entitled to the same benefits, that he would have received had he continued to play with the Club.
So Roundtable, do you have your fingers crossed waiting on today’s meeting? Are you preparing to break out your Rinne jersey one more time?