BOSTON (CBS) — No matter what he’s said during this break in action, Tuukka Rask can’t quite shake the questions about retirement. The 33-year-old Finnish netminder did his best to dispel that talk once again during a video conference with Boston media members on Monday.
“I mean I haven’t thought about retirement at all,” Rask said when asked if this time off has given him new perspective on how long he wants to continue his NHL career.
Rask said he’s been focusing on spending time with his family, which recently grew with the birth of his third daughter. That’s required the bulk of his attention during this time away from the game, and so he hasn’t spent time setting an end date for his career.
“I’ve never really thought of that really, the age number that I would play until,” Rask said. “I think a lot of it has to do with how much you want to keep playing, is your body healthy, and do you have that passion for the game still? Those are the questions you try to think. It’s not necessarily 40 or 36 or whatever. You’ll play as long as you can and your body feels healthy and you want to keep doing it. But whenever that drive kind of slows down then you’ve got to rethink and revisit, hey is this something I want to do? And so far, I still have that passion of winning and playing, and that drives me. The winning drives me.
“I haven’t put a number into it of what age it might be. But we’ll see,” Rask added. “Maybe it’s 36, 37. Maybe it’s 42. You never know. [Zdeno Chara] is still playing and he’s getting older. So maybe I’ll be the goalie who plays till 45. Maybe not.”
As for getting back onto the ice this season, Rask said he’s just like everybody else: Hopeful for a return, but full of questions about how possible it may be.
“I think the biggest question probably for everybody is if we resume play, how can we keep everybody safe? And that’s my question too in my head,” Rask said. “Then on another note too, it doesn’t feel right to take guys away from their families for many, many months at a time. And I don’t think that’s even an option now. Most importantly, the safety of the players, what happens if somebody gets infected or gets this disease? Then what’s going to happen then? I’m sure those are the questions they’re trying to find answers to, and before that happens, I don’t think there’s any hockey or any sports in any country.”
Rask was hesitant to reflect too much on his career, considering he’s still in the middle of it. But he was asked to reflect on the level of criticism he’s faced during his time in Boston.
“It’s something that I think I’ve said a thousand times previously, it comes with the territory. And in a town like this, people love their sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, hockey, baseball or football. There’s always the fans out there who want to see you win and succeed, but they have their right to criticize you. And I’ve accepted the fact that my job is what it is,” Rask said. “Sometimes people praise you, and sometimes they don’t.
“I just try to do my job as good as I can every night, give us a chance to win, and then what comes with that, it comes,” Rask added. “But maybe in the future after I retire and look back, you kind of appreciate yourself more and see what you did and obviously this city is known to win championships, and your success is measured by winning championships. I’ve gotten to the Finals with the team twice as a playing goalie. Didn’t win, but I think it’s still a great accomplishment to reach that point, going to the Finals. Obviously it would be nice to be known as a champion in those years, but it didn’t happen and we just have to live with that. I think I’ve played a good career so far, and hopefully there’s some more years left and even maybe a championship in the future and hopefully I can improve my play as well.”
Rask and the Bruins owned the NHL’s best record prior to the coronavirus shutdown, and Rask was the front-runner among Vezina candidates. So if Rask and the Bruins end up winning the Cup this year — potentially in an empty arena without any fans present — would the goaltender find that to be a strange situation?
“Well that’s … that’s a tough question to answer. I mean, I guess it definitely would be different, but then again, that’s the closest group you have accomplished a goal out there with you, so then I think it also would be pretty awesome. There would be no extra hassle. It would just be your teammates,” Rask said. “Whenever you win something like that, there’s the video crews, the fans, the media, and everyone gets ripped in different directions and then you can’t really be together as a group. And then I guess in this occasion, you would just be with your teammates and you would actually get to celebrate even more. So different with no fans obviously, but I try to be a glass-full type of guy I guess, so I say it would be pretty cool.”