By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For many years, Tuukka Rask has been one of the best goaltenders on the planet. And he’s been paid like it.READ MORE: Garth Brooks Announces Date For First-Ever Gillette Stadium Concert
Now, the 34-year-old is in a unique situation, coming off hip surgery and living without a contract. He still wants to play for the Bruins and only the Bruins, and he said Wednesday that money will not be an issue when it comes to him playing where he wants.
“I played on one team when I was in Finland, and I’ve been so lucky to be part of only one team in the NHL. So for me it’s about that pride of playing with one team and one team only,” Rask said on The Greg Hill Show, as part of the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. “I have no reason to chase the money anymore and go somewhere else. It’s gonna be one of those things that I feel that the Bruins is my home, Boston is my home, and I’ve always wanted to play and wanted to stay here. So the money won’t be an issue.”
The Bruins signed goaltender Linus Ullmark as a free agent, and they dedicated quite a bit of money to the 28-year-old Swede. Despite the four-year, $20 million deal with some no-trade aspects included in the deal for Ullmark, Rask said that he and his agent have had conversations with Bruins GM Don Sweeney, and that both sides are “on the same page.”
“I’ll be a cheap goalie for them, I think,” Rask said of the Bruins. “I don’t want to say any numbers, because that’s not smart. But I would say I’m not looking for like a $7 million contract anymore. I’m at that point of my career. So it’s like, I’d just like to help the team out. I feel like I’m a veteran goalie and there’s some young guys coming in, so whatever I could do to help guys out, I would do it, and end my career as a Bruin.”
Rask just completed an eight-year, $56 million contract, which he signed after posting tremendous numbers in the 2013 postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final. Rask bet on himself in that 2013 season, taking a one-year deal as a restricted free agency before earning the big bucks as a free agent.
Now, with more than $60 million in career earnings and his family established in the Boston area, Rask said he’s just looking to finish his career with the Bruins.READ MORE: Celtics Shed Salary, Acquire Bol Bol In 3-Team Trade With Nuggets And Spurs
“I feel like it would be a shame just to go somewhere and try to chase something dollar-wise or trophy-wise when you have a chance to finish your career with the same group that you started,” Rask said, mentioning Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand specifically, while lamenting that David Krejci is no longer part of the team. “And then you look at the additions that the Bruins signed, it looks like a really capable team again. So looking forward to that.”
Rask already underwent the surgery and is in the midst of recovery. He said his target date to return is around Christmas — give or take a week or two.
Rask played through last season with a torn labrum in his hip, an injury which seemed to wear on him during the Bruins’ playoff run. He posted a .913 save percentage — down from .929 the year before — and a 2.28 GAA — up from 2.12 the previous season — during the regular season. In the playoffs, he posted a .919 save percentage and 2.36 GAA.
During his absence — and during Jaroslav Halak’s absence due to COVID-19 — rookie Jeremy Swayman stepped in and shined. The 22-year-old out of Alaska via the University of Maine went 7-3-0 with a .945 save percentage, 1.50 GAA, and two shutouts in 10 regular-season starts. He allowed a goal on three shots against in his limited playoff action, but hopes are still high for the young netminder in Boston. Rask said he’s hoping to lend a hand in that department.
“Well he’s a great, great goalie. A talented goalie, and a great guy — like you probably saw,” Rask said of Swayman. “He’s super outgoing and nice. So I had the luxury of knowing him last year a little bit. He was around. And he’s got a great future ahead of him. Like I said, hopefully I can help him out.”
Rask said he may not be watching the Bruins when the season begins to “keep myself sane,” but may be able to watch when his rehab is progressing as he wants it to.MORE NEWS: Massachusetts Gas Prices Up $1 A Gallon In A Year And Expected To Keep Rising
“We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully when I start skating, everything feels good and I feel like I’ll be back playing sometime soon,” Rask said. “But if I start feeling bad and I’m like, ‘Ah, I don’t know if I can do this,’ then it might be difficult. But as long as I know that I’m feeling great and I know that I’m gonna be out there, then it won’t be an issue.”