Since allowing two goals in the final minutes of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final to allow the Chicago Blackhawks to come back and win the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 win, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the Boston sports scene.
“I think that stuff kinda bounces off him, or it looks like it does but the criticism he gets is just insane,” teammate Charlie Coyle said in his exit interview with the media Friday morning. “It’s got to be (from) people who just don’t watch closely or what, but we all know what Tuukka brings and how good he is, what he plays through, what’s done for us, and what he’s done for the organization.”
The lack of respect and appreciation for the winningest goalie is on full display again as the same fans and media that called Tuukka Rask out for leaving the bubble last summer to attend to his sick daughter back home, are now the same ones criticizing him for trying to play through what he confirmed Friday to be a torn labrum that will require surgery. Tuukka Rask was clearly affected by the injury the Games 5 and 6 losses of the East Division Final the Bruins lost in six games and the haters are out in full force blaming him for not quitting. Go figure!
During Coyle’s presser, he was asked about how hard it is to be a local player that will surely hear it about another Bruins’ playoff run coming to an unexpected halt and whether the ‘bozos’ get to him? Coyle said that’s not the case with him but called out the bozos going after Rask even more.
“For anyone to criticize him is — someone used the word bozo before — it’s just stupid,” Coyle went on. “Tuukka is one of the best goalies and he’s been doing it for however long now, playing through stuff. Most people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and what guys go through, what he goes through, what he plays through. And he does it pretty well. We love Tuukka. We all know what he brings every day. I think Tuukka knows that, and that’s all he needs.”
As for Tuukka Rask himself and what he thinks of the constant hate hurled his way?
“It doesn’t affect my game. I feel like every time I go out on the town or whatever, people have been really supportive,” the embattled goalie who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 28 said. “It’s not like I go to the grocery store and people are throwing eggs at me or yelling at me. That might suck.”
So how does he explain the treatment he gets from fans on social media and from at least half the Boston sports media?
“The Patriots definitely haven’t helped anybody in that regard, because they won championships every year it seemed like,” Rask said. “This city only recognizes champions as their heroes. As an athlete, you want to have a chance to win every year, and I think we’ve been very close a few times. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t reached that goal yet and I haven’t won the Cup as a playing goalie. I feel like I’ve played good hockey and given us a chance. It’s tough to win. Very few guys can win it. It’s not easy. We’ve definitely tried. I just haven’t been able to close the deal, and that’s the way it is. You just have to deal with it. Maybe it’ll happen, who knows.”
Despite all that, Tuukka Rask reiterated that he will not test the free-agent market; either he signs with the Bruins again or retires from the NHL.
“I’m not going to play for anybody else but the Bruins. This is our home,” Rask said. “We have three kids with friends in school. I don’t see any reason to go anywhere else at this point in my career.”