BOSTON – Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask cleared up plenty of things on breakup day for the team at the end of this week.
The Bruins No. 1 goaltender will need surgery for a torn labrum that he said hampered him all season and will not be ready to return NHL game action until January or February at the earliest. Rask also reiterated that he doesn’t want to play for anybody else in the NHL aside from the Boston Bruins as he faces the end of his current contract with the Black and Gold.
The 33-year-old Rask said he’s going to wait to see how he physically bounces back from the hip surgery, but it’s clear he only wants to play for the Black and Gold provided they want him back for a few more years.
“I’m not going to play for anybody else but the Bruins. This is our home,” said Rask, who also said he’s totally on board with helping along the young goaltenders as he faces the twilight of his NHL career in his next few seasons. “We have three kids with friends in school. I don’t see any reason to go anywhere else at this point in my career.”
Rask said he’d likely return home to play in Finland if the Bruins decided they wanted to go in another direction at the goaltender position.
The injury situation continues to be a confounding one given that Rask clearly looked like it was bothering him physically against the Islanders while posting a .897 save percentage vs. the .941 save percentage he posted against the Washington Capitals. He didn’t look like he was moving explosively from post-to-post and was playing really deep in the net while the Islanders continuously beat him upstairs over the course of the series.
“Mentally I’m up for [a return to action],” said Rask, who missed a month this season when his back “seized up” while likely overcompensating for the hip issues. “Hopefully the physical aspect everything goes well and then I’m looking at a January/Feb for a return.”
Rask said he initially heard his hip “pop” during the playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes in the bubble last summer, and that he played the entire year with the injury. That said Rask admitted the Bruins managed the situation by spreading out his playing time and that the increased workload in the Stanley Cup playoffs made it more difficult on him.
It all raises even more questions as to why the Bruins didn’t opt for rookie Jeremy Swayman at the end of the Islanders series when it was clear things were bothering Rask physically. Swayman, for his part, said he’s now “addicted” to the atmosphere surrounding the Stanley Cup playoffs after experiencing it over the last month and it looks like he may get the full starter’s workload for the first few months starting next season.
What does all of this mean for the Bruins and the Black and Gold?
Rask clearly is going to take a paycut if he wants to stick around with the Bruins and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to try to leverage them with theoretical scenarios of playing for other NHL teams. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that the Bruins sign Rask for a reduced rate ($4-5 million per season) for a couple of seasons as he splits time with Swayman while preparing the 22-year-old youngster for a starting job in Boston that looks like it’s going to be his sooner rather than later.
I mean, where else can you get words of wisdom like this.