Tuukka Rask hadn’t spoken to the Boston Bruins media since prior to leaving the Toronto bubble last summer for a family emergency, but that silence from the B’s goaltender was broken on Wednesday when he discussed his past, his present and his future in Black and Gold.
The Bruins goaltender disclosed that an ambulance had to be called to his Boston residence for an issue with his daughter that prompted his departure from the team last August, and that he had zero concerns about getting traded away from the Bruins in the aftermath.
His quick “nope” answer lets everybody know that Rask had no intentions of playing if the Bruins had ever opted to trade him someplace else.
“It was a tough decision to leave, but then again it wasn’t because I knew it was more important for me to be at home,” said Rask. “That was easy to live with, but you’re knowing that you could be there [with the team], you should be there…so it was tough to watch the games. You’re kind of caught in the middle where your brain is spinning. You know you’re in the right place at home, but then again you should be there stopping pucks. It was tough for a few weeks. But there were no issues coming in [for this season]. “Everything happened so quickly. I got a phone call the night before that our daughter wasn’t doing so well at that point. They had to call an ambulance and everything. So obviously at that point my mind was spinning. The next morning, we had a brief talk and I just went home.”
Naturally, the questions led to the Bruins goaltender’s future with the team as he enters the final year of a massive contract that paid him $7 million per season for the B’s. Rask confirmed that he’d be unwilling to play anywhere else besides the Boston Bruins moving forward, and that he’s okay with waiting through the season for a new contract to keep stop pucks with the Black and Gold.
“With the situation right now, everything is kind of upside down with the hockey world. [Don Sweeney] has a lot on his plate right now and my contract situation is probably not on top of his list at the moment. I’m comfortable with where we are right now,” said Rask, entering the final year of his last contract with the Bruins with “no issues coming back” after his departure during the first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. “I just want to go out there and start the season off right, get into a good groove and play good hockey personally and as a team. Then if the contract talks happen midseason then so be it, and if they don’t then we’ll just wait it and see what happens.
“I have no intentions of playing anywhere else except for with the Bruins. If I’m good enough to play one, two or three more years then so be it and if not then so be it. That’s where my head is at.”
Prior to the COVID-19 financial impact on the NHL world, the 33-year-old Rask was likely looking at an extension in the neighborhood of the two-year, $10 million deal signed by Nashville’s Pekka Rinne prior to last season.
A new contract with the Bruins could still very well look like that if he plays up to his level this season, which was good enough to see him place second in the Vezina Trophy voting last year with a 26-8-6 record, 2.12 goals against average and .929 save percentage in the abbreviated 2019-20 NHL season.
While Rask and Jaroslav Halak have teamed to be the NHL’s most effective goaltending duo while winning the Jennings Trophy last season, it was apparent during last summer’s playoffs that Halak isn’t capable of shouldering the load as a No. 1 goaltender anymore.
And there isn’t an heir apparent at this point with youngsters like Daniel Vladar and Jeremy Swayman still in need of seasoning before they might be NHL ready. So, there’s really no other option for the Boston Bruins than Rask for the foreseeable future unless they can find a Vezina Trophy-level goaltender outside the organization.
One key to remaining in Boston will be Rask simply avoiding any off-the-ice interruptions to his season, whether with good reason or not, as he’s needed to take leaves from the Bruins during each of the last two seasons.