By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tuukka Rask played through a torn labrum in his hip this postseason, an injury he said he dealt with all season long.READ MORE: David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask Recognized By NHL Players As Some Of The Best In The Game
Rask revealed the extent of his injury on Friday morning over Zoom, two days after he and the Bruins had their season ended by the Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rask’s health status had become a big story line in that series, as head coach Bruce Cassidy removed Rask from Game 5 after two periods for what he described as “maintenance.”
Now, Rask shared the details, saying that he will undergo surgery soon to repair the torn labrum.
“Yeah, so I have a torn labrum in my hip. I’m going to do surgery. I just don’t know what the exact date is — probably within a month,” Rask said. “Start the recovery process and then we’ll see what the future holds after that, hopefully recovery goes well.”
Rask made it clear that he wants to play hockey next year and that he only wants to play for the Bruins.
“The physical aspect, hopefully everything goes well, like I said, and then we’ll probably be looking at a January or February return to hockey. So that’s kind of the plan, and hopefully it works out,” Rask said. “Like I’ve said before, I’m not gonna play for anybody else than the Bruins. This is our home. We have three kids. … At this point in my life, I don’t see any reason to go anywhere else. … Hopefully it works out and I recover well and we can talk about contracts.”
However, if the Bruins choose to not sign him — whether it be for the long recovery period for surgery, or any other reason — Rask sounded like he had a couple of backup plans in his back pocket.
“Well, we’ll see when we get there. Maybe I can go play in Finland,” Rask said of his native country. “I’m part owner of a team in Finland, they’re opening a new rink. Maybe I’ll play in Finland, who knows? Maybe I could go play in the Czech Republic again.”READ MORE: Cam Neely Looks Back On Bruins' 2015 Draft: 'Hindsight Is Everything'
Clearly, Rask doesn’t intend to retire — though he is seemingly taking nothing for granted about his hip injury.
“I think first and foremost I’m trying to get this hip fixed and start the recovery and see how I feel afterward. You never know how it goes. You never know what they find when they open the hip,” Rask said. “Maybe it’s worse than expected. I don’t know. So it’s tough to give you an answer [about how long I want to play] now. If everything goes well and I start feeling great and I come back and feel awesome, then who knows how long I’ll play. But it could also go the other way. Maybe I don’t recover that well and maybe I just can’t play anymore. Who knows?”
Rask also said that if Jeremy Swayman — the rookie who dazzled in his first 10 starts this past season — takes over as the starter during his own injury absence, the veteran is willing to help the youngster learn the ropes of the ups and downs of being a No. 1 NHL netminder.
“That’s what I’ve been talking about with [GM Don Sweeney] and the coaching staff too. I’ve played enough hockey. It’s getting to the point that any way I can be helpful to these young guys, I want to do it,” Rask said. “Who knows what the goaltending situation is going to look like when the season starts, but I’m definitely up for helping in any way, shape or form I can. I’ve been through it as a young guy. You know, you were praising me the first few weeks, few months. And then a couple years later, it might turn. So that’s why I’m here; when that happens to him, I can be helpful in helping to block the media out.”
As for his specific injury, Rask said he felt a strange pop while extending his body last summer in the bubble against Carolina. It wasn’t “awful,” but it was the first time he felt something feel not quite right in his hip. It then was an issue throughout the season, though his month-long absence had to do with a different injury that happened because he was overcompensating for the damaged hip.
“Something definitely happened. I’m guessing that, you know, along with the wear and tear over the years is what happened, “Rask said. “Obviously when you play goalie as much as I have, and your style, the butterfly style, these things happen at some point to everybody. So maybe it was probably a combination of both.”
Rask also added: “Yes, it was hard because I had it all year. So we got to manage my workload really well during the season, so you don’t have to play a lot of games in a row. And then obviously in the playoffs, you play every other night. So it’s hard. But it was never, it never got to a point where … the reason why I missed time during the season was because I was compensating that hip injury with my other muscles and then my back seized up, and I could barely walk at the time. The hip itself was never an issue, it just locks up on me every once in a while and that’s why you see me kind of limping out there.”
Rask started 24 of the Bruins’ 56 games, going 15-5-2 with a .913 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average. His save percentage was a decent clip lower than his career mark of .921, and it dropped significantly from his .929 save percentage from the previous season. In the playoffs, he started all 11 games, going 6-4 with a .919 save percentage and 2.36 GAA. His save percentage dropped 16 points and his GAA went up by .42 over the Bruins’ final two games, when his injury status seemingly became more of an issue for him and the team.MORE NEWS: Don Sweeney Explains Bruins' Potential Plan At Goaltender, With Free Agent Tuukka Rask Set For Surgery
Rask just played out the final season of his eight-year, $56 million contract, which he signed in the summer of 2013. He won the Vezina Trophy in the first year of that contract, and he was an All-Star in the penultimate year, when he — along with Jaroslav Halak — also took home the Jennings Trophy.