BOSTON, MA - Tuukka Rask recently arrived back to Boston. One of his first stops? The Bruins' offices at TD Garden, a place he'll likely be frequenting for at least the next eight years.
Rask joins the group of B's already in Boston training locally before Training Camp next month, including Daniel Paille and David Krejci, who we caught up with on Thursday during one of their workouts.
Following a short time off in Tuukka's native Finland, of which included plenty of golf and tennis, the Bruins goalie was freshly tanned and cooly sporting his usual backwards hat. As cool, calm and collected as ever.
"Summer was great - the weather was awesome, I got to see my family and friends, a lot of golfing and a lot of working out. It was just relaxing in general, so it was awesome," said Rask.
We hadn't seen him since his new eight-year contract with the Black & Gold, that sets the 26-year-old up to be in the spoked-B until at least the 2020-21 season. It's the longest deal a team can give a current player. It was announced by the B's on July 10, when Rask was already overseas, enjoying some time relaxing in Finland.
So, of course, congrats was in order.
"As I’ve always said, I’ve loved it here since my first day," smiled the netminder, offering a few thoughts on his new deal. "In my mind, I never wanted to go anywhere else. So it was just great that we got things done in a relatively quick time."
"Now I’m just looking forward to being here the next eight years."
"Every year is going to be a challenge; we’re really looking forward to that. We have a great, core group of guys here. The organization has done a great job of keeping us together. Hopefully that continues and I can be a part of that."
This past year, the goaltender wanted to get his average game level as high as he could, being in the No. 1 role for the first time of his career. Now going into a full 82-game campaign this October, he wants to maintain that level and keep constantly improving his game.
"You can always be better," Rask said on the conference call in July to discuss new contract. "I don’t think you can be really satisfied or just stop thinking that you can’t be better."
Part of that process for Tuukka is always coming to Boston early (most B's will start arriving in late August) and working on his conditioning before camp kicks off on September 11. Summer is where they can make the biggest strides in their game.
"I always like to come here early just to get myself in good shape with [Strength and Conditioning] Coach Whitesides and be ready for Training Camp soon," stressed Rask, who - along with the rest of the NHL - has a much better grasp on preparation for this season than he did last year with the uncertainty of the lockout.
There is some unpredictability regarding camp, however, with the new faces in the spoked-B.
"It's great - they’re all really good players," said Rask, of the new forwards like Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla who will be joining the locker room.
"Obviously, I feel bad for the guys we lost, but that’s part of the business. It happens, but it’s always good to get new blood in the locker room too to spice things up a bit. I’ve only heard great things about those guys; I’m looking forward to meeting them."
And I'm sure they're looking forward to having someone between the pipes like Rask.
It's no doubt with the new long-term contract in tow, the backbone of the team will be counted on even more to lead the way with solid performances, especially during an initial feeling-out process with the new members of the Black & Gold to begin the season.
But if he's anything like last season - which, judging from his current mindset and same calm and collected approach, is bound to happen - that shouldn't be a problem.
Stay tuned here to BostonBruins.com and the Bruins Blog throughout August - I'll bring you more updates as the B's continue filtering back into town…