BOSTON (CBS) — Tuukka Rask’s abrupt departure from the NHL bubble last month further fueled speculation and questions about whether the 33-year-old netminder might walk away from the game this offseason.
While the actual existence and specifics of the next NHL season are very much unknown, the Boston Bruins are indeed planning on having their longtime goaltender back in the crease, whenever and wherever that may be.
General manager Don Sweeney spoke to the media on Wednesday morning, stating that he has “zero reservations” about Rask’s future with the team.
“I have zero reservations about where Tuukka will be, both on and off the ice for us,” Sweeney said. “I think we’re in a really good spot with our goaltending.”
Rask left the NHL’s “bubble” in Toronto in order to deal with a family matter. When he did so, Bruins executives, coaches and players voiced their public support for him. The team won its first-round playoff series against the Hurricanes without Rask for the final three games before losing in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to leaving — and after losing Game 2 to the Hurricanes — Rask made some comments that raised a whole lot of eyebrows around Boston.
“I’m just trying to have fun and play the game. I’m not stressing too much about the results and whatnot. You know, it’s August and I haven’t played hockey. So just go out there and have fun, and see what happens for me,” Rask said. “Well to be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there. There’s no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game. … It’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there.”
That comment was seemingly unrelated to the family matter which took him away from the postseason.
Yet like the Bruins, it seems as though Rask anticipates a return to the Bruins next season to fulfill the final year of his contract. The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa emailed Rask’s agent, Markus Lehto, who told Shinzawa, “There has been no such discussions that he wouldn’t return.”
Rask was a Vezina finalist in the 2019-20 season. Among goalies with at least 35 games played, Rask ranked first in GAA (2.12) and first in save percentage (.929). He had a .904 save percentage and 2.57 GAA in four playoff starts in Toronto, though two of those games were in the round robin.
Like anything, things can change. But as it stands now, both the team and Rask himself are planning on having No. 40 between the pipes for the Boston Bruins next season.