BOSTON – Tuukka Rask is not quite sure what the future may hold.
The 34-year-old netminder has set no deadline for when his career may come to an end, nor has he made any firm decisions or plans about where he may end up when that day inevitably comes.
For now, Rask is focused on one thing and one thing only: the present – and reuniting with the core group he has been alongside for over a decade to take another shot at a championship.
“I think it’s as good as anybody else,” Rask, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the club on Tuesday afternoon, said of the Bruins’ chances this season. “The core group is still there. I think in the past few games, the team showed that they can play some real solid hockey against good teams. It’s a long season so there’s still plenty of games left.
“I think once we keep building in the right direction – like we always say, it’s all about making the playoffs and then anything can happen. Looking forward to that.”
That end goal was all that was on Rask’s mind as he grinded through a lengthy six-month rehab process following surgery on a torn hip labrum last summer. Rask was realistic about the Black & Gold’s aging core group, acknowledging that he’s talked “from time to time” with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand about the dwindling window for them to capture another Stanley Cup together.
“I think the biggest motivation is to play with the group that I’ve played with my whole career and have another chance to win,” said Rask. “That’s about it…we’re realistic that we’re getting older and the window’s closing. Whether that’s a year, two years, three years, who knows? But it’s closing and we know that.”
While Rask was eager to get back to his longtime teammates, there were a bevy of boxes he needed to check before that could happen, forcing him to be extremely patient – which he admits is not one of his strong suits.
“There was no pain – that was what was told to me before the surgery that the rehab is fairly easy and pain free. It’s just the patience,” said Rask. “The first month or two months, you can’t really do anything more than just lay on the table and let the trainer mobilize the hip and make sure that it doesn’t stiffen up too much.
“I’m not the most patient when it comes to just waiting around and not doing things. That was the biggest challenge for me, for sure.”
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Rask, the B’s all-time winningest goalie, began skating again early in the fall and has been practicing with the Bruins since mid-December. Being around the team on a daily basis has, no doubt, helped him ramp up physically, but it also …….