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Rask would miss start of next season for Bruins after hip surgery

Pending free agent goalie has torn labrum, plans to stay with Boston

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

Tuukka Rask is expected to be sidelined until January or February because of a torn labrum in his hip that will require surgery.

The Boston Bruins goalie said he expects he'll have the procedure "probably within a month." 

"Hopefully recovery goes well, and I'll be ready to play hockey at some point next year," Rask said Friday.

Rask said he hopes he will still be playing for the Bruins. The 34-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent July 28 at the end of an eight-year, $56 million contract he signed July 10, 2013 ($7 million average annual value). He said he's not interested in testing the free agent market, though he declined to specify how many seasons he might want to play, citing the unknowns of his health.

"I'm not going to play for anybody else than the Bruins," Rask said. "This is our home. We have three kids. The kids enjoy it here. They have friends in school. We have friends. At this point in my life and career, I don't see any reason to go anywhere else."

Rask has played 14 seasons for Boston after it acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 24, 2006. He is 306-163-66 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 560 games, and his 306 wins are first in Bruins history. Rask started 24 games this season and was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .913 save percentage.

He said he believes the labrum tear came from a combination from when he made a quick stretch and "felt the pop there" against the Carolina Hurricanes during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and the general wear and tear of 14 seasons.

"It was hard because I had it all year," Rask said. "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 harder. 

"But it never got to a point where I couldn't play. 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 for a week over there. That's why I missed the time. The hip itself was never the issue."

Rask started all 11 postseason games this season and was 6-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .919 save percentage. The Bruins were eliminated in six games by the New York Islanders in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Second Round on Wednesday.

"I can't stand here and say, 'Oh it was because of my hip I couldn't play at my level,'" Rask said. "I felt like I played at a very good level. I think it was Game 5 (a 5-4 loss), that was a bad game I had and probably the only bad game I had in the playoffs. Just one of those things that it happens, but I thought everybody should be proud of themselves, the way we battled."

Jeremy Swayman was 7-3-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .945 save percentage as a rookie, surpassing backup Jaroslav Halak, another pending free agent. Swayman made two saves on three shots in Game 5 against the Islanders after Rask was pulled after the second period.

Rask said he has had conversations with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and the coaching staff about helping them and Swayman if he's able. Then he wants to help Boston get back to the Stanley Cup Final, which he did in 2013, when they lost to the Chicago Blackhakws in six games, and 2019, when they lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. He was the backup to Tim Thomas when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

"I haven't won the Cup as a playing goalie, but I feel like I've played good hockey and given us a chance," Rask said. "It's tough to win. There's very few guys who win it. It's not easy. We've tried, and I just haven't been able to close the deal. That's the way it is. Just have to deal with it. Maybe it will happen, who knows."

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