Given that Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask enjoyed a window into what retirement might be like during the first half of this season while rehabbing from summer hip surgery, it shouldn’t be surprising that the leisurely lifestyle might have suited him well.
Rask is reportedly mulling NHL retirement with the Boston Bruins not expecting him to come back to play this season once his 34-year-old body didn’t respond as well as he would have liked to the comeback, per sources with knowledge of the situation.
Rask signed a one-year deal for $1 million last month after a long rehab process and his comeback had forced the Bruins to send promising rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman to Providence.
Rask struggled in his four starts with the Boston Bruins after rehabbing from hip surgery and posted a 2-2-0 record with a 4.28 goals against average and .844 save percentage while dealing with some lingering physical issues. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy cryptically said on Monday there might be news on the Rask front next week after he was shut down this week, and that definitely opened the door for retirement speculation.
“He’s not on the ice today. He won’t be practicing this week, so we’ll update at the end of the week or early next week,” said Cassidy. “That’s where he’s at right now. We’ll see where it goes from there. He’s kind of fighting through some medical issues, I guess, or body issues for his age with the comeback. So we’ll see how it turns out.”
Rask’s absence will leave the goaltending tandem of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark in place for the rest of the season, where one or both netminders will get their first career Stanley Cup playoff experience this spring.
If this truly is it for Rask at the NHL level, he leaves the Boston Bruins as the winningest goaltender in franchise history with 308 career victories in 564 games for the Black and Gold with a pair of All-Star appearances, a Vezina Trophy and two trips to the Stanley Cup Final as the No. 1 goaltender with a Stanley Cup championship from the 2010-11 season while backing up Tim Thomas.
Rask finishes with a phenomenal career .925 save percentage in the playoffs, but fair or unfair will be remembered as a playoff goaltender that wasn’t able to dominate during the moment of truth in either of his two best chances to win a Cup in 2013 or 2019.
What’s interesting to note about all of this is how unsurprising all of this is for a guy in Rask that has many other interests outside of hockey, and might even consider tennis, rather than hockey, as his favorite sport. Rask was always the kind of competitor that was going to retire sooner rather than later, and not going to be somebody hanging around for a Stanley Cup that eluded him as the No. 1 guy between the pipes in Boston.
After all this is a guy that was already talking about retirement as the winning goaltender in the Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame some three years ago.
“This might be my last outdoor game, you never know,” said Rask when asked about the experience of playing in that particular Winter Classic. “It’s a great experience to get the result. The next one, when it happens, maybe I’ll be sitting up in the press box drinking beer, who knows?”
Well, it appears that might actually be the case if a retired Rask shows up at Fenway next New Year’s Day to watch the Bruins host what’s expected to be the Penguins at the showcase outdoor event next season.