BOSTON, MA -- Tuukka Rask is back in town and after visiting patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund Clinic on Thursday afternoon, the Bruins goaltender met with the local hockey press for the first time since re-signing with the Black & Gold for a one year contract.
|Rask said he's ready to return.
"A lot of people, I guess, were a little surprised about the contract, but you know what I really I can tell the team…that I want a long contract, because I’m at the age that I would have had to gone to arbitration and stuff like that. So we just figured that it’s best for both of us and then if I have a good year then maybe sign up a longer deal and if I [stink] then kick me off basically," said Rask with a chuckle. "It wasn’t tough for us, we just had to sit down and talk about a few things and then at the end of the day it didn’t take much time at all."
The contract negotiations may have sped by, but for Bruins fans, who last spring watched Boston's Stanley Cup defense last only one round versus Washington, the summer has seemed interminable.
"It felt long in the beginning when you looked ahead in May and you feel like the season’s not starting until October," said Rask. "Every year it’s the same it goes by quick, but you wish you could have played a little longer."
That's especially so for the young goalie, who was felled by a groin injury that cost him 19 regular season and five postseason games. But Rask insisted that his injury is behind him and, after Tim Thomas' decision to take the season off, Tuukka is looking forward to competing for the top goaltending spot on the club.
"Well, I was and I wasn’t," answered Rask when questioned if he were surprised at Thomas' decision. "I mean I wasn’t expecting him to do that, obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to want to be with the family and take some time off hockey.
"So, it really didn’t shock me that much that, but [it's] more like I’m upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on.
"But I’m sure he’s happy now where he is and gets to spend time with his family."
And Rask is happy to have an opportunity to step into the spotlight.
"It’s been a goal," said Rask, who also acknowledged that Anton Khudobin's play could earn "Dobby" significant time in the crease as well. "I played some games my first year consistently, but year after was kinda a step back from playing time-wise.
"But, you know, I’ve been waiting for a few years now it’s going be interesting to see how I handle it and it’s going be a challenge but I’m always up for a challenge and you just gotta make the most of it and have fun.
"I played a lot down in Providence and down in Finland, so that’s not gonna be anything new," continued Rask. "I’m sure I’m gonna get every chance to play possible but if I can’t get the job done there’s gonna be more guys coming in."
But Rask remains confident.
"I mean I’ve never really [stunk]," said Rask, again with a smile. "So hopefully I don’t [stink] this year either.
"You know you go out there and you do your best and practice hard; you work hard and you just play at your level and I know my level is not too low in general so I just gotta work hard to maintain a [high] level."