Tuukka's Taken the Reigns
BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask will be a Boston Bruin between the pipes until at least the 2020-21 season.
After signing a new, eight-year contract with the Black & Gold, the goaltender addressed media via conference call on Thursday from Finland, where he's relaxing and regrouping for the 2013-14 season, one that will mark the first of his long-term status. The contract comes on the heels of a solidifying season, in which he took the reigns of the No. 1 role.
Rask gave opening remarks, first and foremost, thanking the organization for giving him the opportunity to be a Bruin in the first place.
"We all know it’s a huge honor to play for the Bruins and I’ve had such a great time throughout my years with the Bruins," he said. "I’m looking forward to keep that going and hopefully bring the Cup back to Boston where it belongs."
Before the long-term deal, Rask had infamously said it would be ideal, of course, to be a Bruin "forever."
In fact, he's never thought of joining another team or ever testing free agency throughout his career, not since he's been on the patient and methodical trajectory within the Bruins' organization since signing his entry-level contract in 2007.
"That wasn’t a part of my thought process. As I’ve said all along, I’ve enjoyed my time in Boston and I’ve never even considered playing on another team," said Rask. "I’m in a great situation right now that I have an opportunity to play with the Bruins throughout my whole career hopefully."
"So no, I was never thinking about testing any markets."
In fact, the homegrown goaltender, having worked his way through the ranks of the Providence Bruins up to Boston, could not me more excited with his current - and future - situation.
"I couldn’t be happier. I mean, I think it’s something that every player wants to accomplish and wants to be a part of," said Tuukka, on being able to now be part of the Bruins' core for such an extended time.
"I’ve worked hard to accomplish that and now I have an opportunity to be in Boston for a long time and do great things with the team - because everybody knows we have a great core group of guys and a great team - so I’m just really excited to be a part of that long term and hopefully make good things happen with our team."
Rask's attitude to the game and to his teammates, along with his impressive numbers (which you can read more about in the team's official contract release here), helped seal the deal for Bruins' General Manager Peter Chairelli, who was also on the conference call.
"I really like who Tuukka has become as a person and as a goaltender and, as a result, we felt that we were ready to commit to him to a long term contract and he was ready to commit to us," said the GM.
"We’re excited. He’s still a young player, especially as a goaltender, he’s still quite young. He’s really starting to reach his prime. Only better things will happen for him and the Bruins for years to come."
The 26-year-old Rask has shown considerable growth in the eyes of the B's. He came over to North America under the age of 20, from the Finnish Elite League, and learned his craft here. Chiarelli saw him grow as a person and a professional hockey player.
"He showed me patience, perseverance, hard work, work ethic in continuing to get better as a goaltender," the GM recalls. " And he’s turned into an elite goaltender."
"I have been really passionate and I have set really high goals for myself," said Rask of working through the Bruins' system. "It hasn’t always been easy, but who says it should be?"
Now, the organization sees his stock only going up, especially following his feverish postseason, helping lead the spoked-B to the Stanley Cup Final.
"What I saw in Tuukka this year – and Tuukka’s a very athletic goalie, with I think strong technical grace – he was quieter and he was more efficient," said Chiarelli. "And that I think he gained the trust and earned the trust, vice versa, of the defensemen and those players that are defending and I think he got better."
The Bruins' defensive system is dictated by Rask's communicative and calming influence between the pipes. In turn, he then feeds off of the players in front of him.
For the goaltender, who was playing out the season on a one-year contract, knew he needed to prove himself. And Chiarelli was overwhelmed by his desire to solidify himself as a starter.
"I was impressed obviously. Tuukka’s always been – you heard him say about being patient and learning his craft - put to high expectations. He’s been very consistent in his approach to his career and that has impressed me a lot," said Chiarelli.
"He has been very confident in what he sets out to do and he accomplished it. So to see it unfold before me – and I think I was asked a questions during the Stanley Cup run, 'Is it going to be really hard to sign Tuukka now?' and I said 'In fact, it’s going to be easier.'"
"To see what he did when he said he was going to do it was impressive and he’d done that all the way, all the way along."
"So he deserves this contract and he’s a high character kid and like I said, he is only going to get better."