Tuukka Rask wants to remain with the Boston Bruins.
“I don’t want to play for anybody else but the Boston Bruins,” the goalie told the Boston Herald on Thursday.
The comments marked the first time Rask has spoken publicly since he opted out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving the Bruins on Aug. 15 during the Eastern Conference First Round against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rumors have swirled about the potential for the Bruins to trade Rask, but general manager Don Sweeney said Monday that, “[Rask] remains a big part of our roster planning going forward. … We should look very, very comfortable the way our goaltending’s at.”
Rask will enter the final season of an eight-year, $56 million contract ($7 million average annual value) he signed July 10, 2013, and does not have full no-trade protection. He didn’t say he would retire if traded but was emphatic that he did not want to play for another team.
“I don’t see any reason for that,” he said. “I’ve been here for a long time and the organization’s been so great for me. We’ve built our home in Boston and we call this home. So, yeah, I don’t want to play for anybody else. I think where my head’s at is focusing on next year and then hopefully a couple of more years after that and then pass the torch for the next guy after that. I want to help the organization as much as I can.”
When Rask left the Bruins in August, president Cam Neely said the decision was spurred by a medical emergency with one of his three daughters. Jaroslav Halak took over and helped the Bruins reach the Eastern Conference Second Round, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.
“I got a phone call from my wife, and my daughter was in a state that she needed medical attention and she wasn’t doing well,” Rask said. “At that point I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that. If you get a phone call wherever you are, like I did, it’s a pretty easy decision.
“What bothered me a little bit was people thinking that I just left because I didn’t like it there. … If I didn’t have a reason to leave, I wouldn’t have left, obviously.”
Rask said his daughter is now fine, and that he has received support for his decision.
“Everybody who has talked to me has been very supportive,” he said. “We’re professional athletes, but we also have families and we’re normal guys. It’s such a special time in the world for anybody right now that I don’t think you need to be judged as you normally would be.
“It doesn’t matter, because I know that I made the right decision and I know my family is well right now, and that’s all that matters.”
Rask went 26-8-6 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in 41 games (41 starts) this season. He finished second to Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets in voting for the Vezina Trophy as the League’s best goaltender, and he Halak shared the William Jennings Trophy for being the goaltenders on the team that allowed the fewest goals in the League.
Rask has spent his entire 13-season NHL career in Boston; his 536 games and 291 wins are most among Bruins goalies, and his 50 shutouts are second to Tiny Thompson (74). He helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 as Tim Thomas’ backup, and has been the starter for the Bruins in the Final in 2013 (loss to Chicago Blackhawks) and 2019 (loss to St. Louis Blues).