BOSTON (CBS) — Just a day away from the puck dropping on the 2015-16 Boston Bruins season, goaltender Tuukka Rask joined Toucher & Rich to talk about the team and the upcoming year.
One major question heading into Thursday night’s season opener is the availability of captain Zdeno Chara, who’s been out with a mysterious upper-body injury and whose playing status remains unknown.
Rask, who had to play behind a Chara-less team for a month-and-a-half last season, hopes the future Hall of Famer is healthy and ready to go.
“I noticed it last year how, big of a deal he actually is out there. He’s such a big presence in front of that net, clearing pucks out, taking guys out and whatnot. When we lost him [last year], it was a huge blow. And I don’t think people realized how big of an influence he actually is until he was gone,” Rask said. “We’re all hoping he gets back soon, because he’s a great part of our defense and team, inside the locker room and also on the ice.”
Rask was asked about Brad Marchand’s comments about a divided locker room last season.
“Obviously you always have different kinds of teams and different chemistry, and if you compare the teams when we won and when had good success to the team last year, I think the chemistry was a little different. It was a little off, but I wouldn’t say it was split by any means,” Rask said. “But obviously when you struggle to win games, some guys might take it harder than others, and it might split the group up, so it was definitely a tough year.”
That underachieving team led to many changes in the offseason, with big names like Milan Lucic (Los Angeles), Dougie Hamilton (Calgary) and Reilly Smith (Florida) getting traded. The news surprised many fans, but not Rask.
“Not really surprised. More saddened to see Looch gone and stuff like that, because he’s been such a great player with us for many years. So it was frustrating and tough but not really surprised. We all knew that change was going to happen, it was just a matter of what kind of changes. And they ended up being pretty dramatic. That’s just how the business goes sometimes. As players, we have to deal with it and get ready for the next season. That’s about it.”
One place where the Bruins won’t undergo change is with head coach Claude Julien. Tuukka says that’s a good thing.
“As players, we’ve always trusted his system and we respect him as a coach. He’s shown that he can win and he can provide us the winning system,” Rask said. “We were never worried that he’d be gone. Obviously there’s going to be talk when teams underachieve, but deep inside we felt like he belongs here and he’s going to stay here, and it’s good to see that he did. He’s been around for many years, and he knows many of us as players and as persons and kind of knows what buttons to push, so it’s good to see him stick around.”
Tuukka also talked about the unproven defensemen set to play in front of him, his expectation in terms of a workload, the B’s team trip to Las Vegas, and more. Listen to the full interview below!