By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The NHL’s self-quarantine period, which is officially two months old, has left Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with plenty of time to kill.
Most of that time has been devoted to taking care of the newest member of the Rask family (and their third daughter), Olivia, who was born three weeks ago. Rask has also found himself taking regular jogs and walks to keep his cardio up, and there’s always the basement drum set (gifted to him by Metallica) should the head-banging goaltender need to blow off some steam.
But it hasn’t been enough to get Rask, who made a passing comment about retirement before the league went on its unwanted break, legitimately thinking about the perks of life after hockey.
“I haven’t thought about retirement at all,” Rask said in a Monday video chat with the B’s media. “It’s been so kind of weird times now that I’ve kind of put full focus on my family at this time and just tried to enjoy that. But you know, like last summer was very short, and the past two seasons combined together almost, it felt like.
“I’ve used this time off to get my mind off hockey and focus on family because we travel a lot and it gets taxing mentally sometimes to be away from your family. So I’ve tried to refocus my energy to the family and try to be present here at home.”
Thoughts about retirement have been so infrequent that the 33-year-old hasn’t even thought of a set age to call it quits.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how much you wanna keep playing, is your body healthy, and do you have that passion for the game still?” Rask offered. “Those are the questions you kind of think [of]. it’s not necessarily 40, or 36 or whatever. You’ll play as long as you can and your body feels healthy and you wanna keep doing it.
But whenever that drives slow down, then you gotta revisit it, ‘Hey is this really still something I wanna do?’ So far, I still have that passion of winning and playing, and that drives me. The winning drives me.”
And while finding inspiration may not be necessary for the goalie who’s won a franchise-record 291 games, Rask can look to his career-long teammate, Zdeno Chara, as an example of a healthy body and driven mind playing well into a “retirement age.”
“Zee’s still playing and he’s getting older,” said Rask. “I haven’t put a number into it. But we’ll see. Maybe it’s 36, 37. Maybe it’s 42, you never know. Maybe I’ll be the goalie who plays ’til he’s 45.”
For Rask, who was in the middle of a Vezina-caliber season before it paused, the possibility of playing into those ages begins with a potential contract extension, which can be talked about this summer should the sides want to get to the table.
“I know this summer I can start talking to the Bruins about a possible extension,” Rask, whose $7 million per year contract will conclude at the end of the 2020-21 season, noted. “When that day comes, we’ll see what happens, but definitely haven’t put any thought to retirement or anything like that.”