For one night everything looked on track. Tuukka Rask was healthy, back in uniform and making big saves to protect a Bruins’ win late as fans cooed his name from the TD Garden crowd.
But Rask’s 2022 debut victory against the Philadelphia Flyers turned out to be the high-water mark for goalie’s return. The health setback that paused his comeback late last month will shut it down altogether.
The Bruins tweeted a statement from Rask.
Rask, the Bruins’ career victories leader with 308, has decided to retire at age 34 confirming the reports that surfaced Tuesday night that his decision to end his career was imminent.
Rask, who turns 35 next month, was dealing with a then-undisclosed injury throughout last season but played effectively enough for most of the year to remain Boston’s No. 1 goalie in the final year of his contract.
He revealed after the season that he had a torn labrum in his hip that required surgery. He stayed unsigned throughout his rehab but used the Bruins’ training and workout facilities. The Boston front office was upfront from the beginning that they planned to bring Rask back whenever he was willing and ready. But they signed Linus Ullmark during the offseason, a move that had been questioned, but retroactively seems prudent.
Rask signed a salary cap-friendly deal and after a ramp-up trip to Providence fell through, Rask saw his first action with 25 saves in a 3-2 win over the Flyers on Jan. 13. But things went downhill from there with three uneven efforts before the Bruins shut him down with what was expected to be a short-term injury. Instead he never returned.
Rask was a well-respected goalie in the NHL and around the world during his career. In Boston, he was more polarizing. The Bruins went to the Stanley Cup finals twice with him as the starting goalie, but they lost both times. With that framed against Tim Thomas’ dominant goaltending in Boston’s 2011 Cup win, Rask’s big game acumen was questioned.
He finished his career with a 308-165-0-66 record and a 2.28 goals average and a .921 save percentage.
Matt Vautour, masslive.com