It’s August, and not only does Tuukka Rask not have a contract for the 2021-22 season, but the Bruins have two goaltenders signed for the 2021-22 season with Linus Ullmark and 2021 breakout youngster Jeremy Swayman.
But even so, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy does not believe that Tuukka Rask’s days of professional hockey are over.
“I do,” Cassidy told TSN 1200 (Ottawa) earlier this week when asked if he believes that Rask will play another NHL game. “I think that’ll be his call at the end of the day.”
This is interesting because Rask, a pro career-long Bruin, has made it known that he’ll only play for the Bruins. At 34 years old and with three young daughters, Rask has no intentions of moving to another NHL city. The mere thought has never crossed his mind, and there were rumblings that Rask would’ve retired had the Bruins traded him in 2020. And though he joked about it when asked what he would do if the Bruins decided to move on from him, it doesn’t sound like Rask has a legitimate interest in pulling a David Krejci and returning to play in his home country.
Everybody, especially those within the B’s front office and coaching staff, knows this.
So, why commit $20 million to Ullmark when nobody seems to think Rask is ready to call it quits?
“It’s a good five-month rehab, so we did not want to wait and say, ‘OK, Tuukka will come back.’ What if the rehab doesn’t go well? Anything could happen,” Cassidy acknowledged. “So we identified a guy that we thought would be a good young goaltender in this league for years to come, and we happened to have one who kind of surprised us last year in Swayman [with] how quickly he developed, so we just figured we’ll start with those two.”
But perhaps most telling moment of Cassidy’s latest Tuukka Talk came when he outright echoed some of the sentiments first put forth by Don Sweeney earlier this offseason, with the B’s general manager essentially leaving the door open for Rask.
A fellow believer in never having enough good goaltending, Cassidy also seems ready to ride with a potential three-headed monster in the crease down the stretch should Rask’s recovery go off without a setback.
“If Tuukka wants to play and it looks like he’s gonna play, well that’s a good problem to have and we’ll sort it out in the second half of the year,” said Cassidy. “But all indications are from [Rask] are that he thought he still had some hockey left in him but was gonna have the surgery and go from there. So it’s a little bit up in the air right now.”
In other words, the Bruins are indeed and truly keeping all their options open.
And with a goaltender nobody with the proper intel seems to think is truly done playing hockey.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.