Andy Moog. Byron DaFoe. Reggie Lemelin. Tim Thomas. Gerry Cheevers. Names that mean nothing to people outside of Boston. There is another name that is well known, yet also hated within our great city. Tuukka Rask.
Tuukka Finland, where he played youth hockey within his hometown. He was the #1 goalie for the Ives Senior team, and was the top ranked European goaltender for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Rask was selected 21st overall in the ’05 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs but quickly traded over to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. The Leafs saw Rask expendable believing that goalie Justin Pogge was their future. (very true, look him up with where he is now!) The Raycroft for Rask trade would be the worst in Maple Leaf history. (wonder why)
Becoming a Bruin
Being within the NHL Draft is a big deal for anyone that that has played the game, or is even a fan. Even bigger if you are from European or Canadian descent. Why you ask? Hockey is a commodity out within these parts, and it begins when you are a child. Such as it was for Rask. Being drafted must have been a great feeling. Traded shortly after? Maybe not so much. Yet being a professional is what these guys are. Rask took to his assignment and joined the Providence Bruins. What came next, is the impressive part…
Rask signed a 3 year deal with the bruins in 2007, as he made his debut with the team in November, playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and notching the win 4-2. In 08-09 during the pre-season, Rask had the highest save percentage out of the other 4 goalies, including Tim Thomas, and Manny Fernandez with a .952%. The Bruins made the decision to go with the veteran goalies for the year. After the All-Star break Fernandez would show issues with his back, and Rask was recalled. January 31st, Rask played in the only game for the year, and left the NY Rangers with a goose egg, notching his second win in a Bruins uniform, and his first NHL shut out.
Leading the way
Beginning with the 09-10 season, Rask was officially made the backup to Tim Thomas giving the Bruins a 1-2 punch at goalie to lock down the net. Rask would blow up the season with a sub 2.00 G.A.A and led the league in save percentage within his rookie season. He made the qualifications for rookie of the year. Besides the stellar stats, Rask would again take the back seat to Thomas in the 10-11 season, as he would show his best form and take over the starting role. The Bruins would become Stanley Cup Champions that year with Thomas and the defense coming up big.
Rask would then resign a 1 year deal with the team ready to go for the 2012 season, as the Bruins were naming Rask the starting goaltender and moving on from Thomas as he was traded to the Islanders. Rask would lead the team to the Stanley Cup coming up big for the team, yet short of the victory.
NHL on Notice
With the 13-14 season upcoming, Rask inked a big eight-year, 56 million contract making him the main goalie in Boston. This would also come with many perks. Rask would be the winner of the Vezina Trophy, along with the Bruins winning the Presidents Trophy since 1990, and still holding down stellar stats as a netminder for the league. Rask’s style and poise in net earned him that Vezina. As a bonus, Rask’s play and grit has him noted as one of the top 10 goalies in the NHL. No easy feat to do, yet his shutouts, and G.A.A definitely shows it.
Why the Hate
In my own words, Tuukka Rask has proven himself time and again he belongs within the NHL. Not only within the league, however as a member of the Bruins. His determination to be the best carries within him on and off the ice. Stats alone still show Rask cutting down the competition in G.A.A, shutouts, and save percentage. very tough categories for goalies to hold down. But why the hatred for the goalie? Why root for him to be out of Boston? Why wouldn’t you want a top tier goalie? Answer: He’s no Tim Thomas.
Think of that for a moment hockey fans. Young up and coming goalie comes in, shows promise and talent. Thomas gets praise and love from Boston for being a human wall in the 2010-2011 season. Yes, it’s the first time winning a cup since 1972. So why wouldnt you be all in on Thomas? But why hold it against Rask? What did he do? Play better? Get the contract? Exactly!
Toph’s Final Word
Yeah Rask is a hot netminder. Take Covid-19 away, and the Bruins were on a clear path to the playoffs with a hot netminder in tow. Yes the bubble is not for everyone, and yes players did opt out. Rask is no exception to that. Family first, and anyone would have done the same. Besides that, I’ve always heard after every year “Trade Rask! Trade away the bum!” BUM?! What Bum? Oh, would it be due to the 12-13 season they played the offensive powerhouse that was the Chicago Blackhawks? Or how about in 18-19 against the St. Louis Blues where they were the heavy team coming into play? Hmmmm……
Lets think on that. Not only during each playoff run did Rask have great stats, and play hard, his defense failed. Every Rask hater wants to blame $7 million per year, or he lets up soft goals. Sure, great argument! As you learn of my sarcasm, let me show you education. Against the Blackhawks in 2013, Rask had a .932 save percentage. AGAINST THE BLACKHAWKS! Look up the team that year. I wouldn’t want to play them!
Then move onto St Louis. Rask was 15-9 with a 2.02 GAA, locking in a .934 save percentage. Those aren’t bum numbers. Those are solid numbers that make you an ELITE goalie! Not only with those stats, you tack on 50 shutouts within his career, and 253 wins in a Bruins uniform. This beat out Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, who held the record for 81 years. 81 YEARS!
Maybe you should give credit where it’s due, and stop wanting a better goalie. You wont find one better than Tuuka Rask!