Rinne begins rehab but no timetable for return

Life goes on without the Nashville Predators “X Factor”.

 

NASHVILLE – Life goes on without the Nashville Predators “X Factor”.

Nobody in the Predators organization, however, is hiding from the fact that the absence of franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne has been a colossal blow.

Rinne, who was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in his hip on Oct. 22, was only this week cleared to resume light exercises. There’s no timetable for when he could be ready to play again – or even when he can return to practice – and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to represent Finland at the Olympics.

Rinne, 31, had played in 116 of the Predators 130 games in the previous two seasons and 180 of 212 in the previous three seasons.

Without him around, there has been a substantial drop off. The tandem of Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton had delivered a record of 15-16-5 before Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. The Predators were nine points behind Minnesota for the final wild spot in the Western Conference.

“It has been a long, long time, but the steps (to recovery) are moving forward, so it’s absolutely fantastic news for us,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the rehabilitation developments. “There’s no time frame. It’s going to be a day to day thing, what he can do and the doctors’ protocol and all those sorts of things, but he has been able to start the training and rehab process that athletes need to go through.”

It’s difficult to determine just how long it will Rinne to recover because of the unknown. Few athletes have dealt with a similar bacterial infection.

“Everyone is going to do what’s right and between doctors, trainers and Pekka, we’ll move along this process so he can’t get back to play goal with no time table in mind,” said Trotz.

Trotz acknowledges that his team shows more confidence when Rinne is in net.

“He’s the X factor for the Nashville Predators,” he said. “Any team that has that goaltender, you play with a lot more confidence. He can steal you games. He can keep you in games where you can get your feet under you. That’s the X factor.

“It’s like in baseball. If your starting pitcher is better than the other starting pitcher and he’s on top of his game, there’s something to be said about that. You have an advantage in that area of the game. But we’ve had to come together, fight through different things. We’ve got to do it in different ways, that’s all.”

Predators star defenceman Shea Weber says the team continues to keep the faith that Rinne will soon be back, but they can’t feel sorry for themselves waiting for him to come back, either.

“We know what we have in this room and that’s what we have to go with,” Weber said. “He’s our friend and we’re going to support him off the ice and help him get back, but at the same time, this is our team right now and we’ve got to win some games.

“Teams ahead of us are losing and we have to find ways to win.”

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