Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask knew it was time to hang up the skates.
“Playing that Anaheim (Ducks) game,” said Rask on Thursday night before the Bruins honored him pregame, “I kind of stretched and tweaked my groin and hip a little bit, and then it just kept aggravating even more — and then it was just kind of time to be honest with yourself.
“I figured that I could’ve kept pushing but what’s the benefit of me playing at 60 percent and taking time off, taking a week off here, taking two weeks off, and taking a spot away from (Jeremy Swayman)? I figured it’s more beneficial for everybody to call it. I had a great career. I have no regrets.”
Rask, 35, suffered a setback in Boston’s loss to the Ducks in late January in which he allowed five goals. A week later after just three games since his comeback, on February 1, he announced his retirement.
“I’ve always been pretty honest with myself,” Rask said. “I didn’t want to go out there and play 60 percent and just half-ass it, so to say.
“At the end of the day, it was pretty easy,” he added. “Obviously, it’s never easy to make tough decisions like that. If you’re honest with yourself, you can’t play at the level your teammates and the crowd expects, then why would you push it?”
The Bruins might want to honor Rask more often as Boston routed the Devils 8-1 Thursday night.
Rask said he felt great during rehab but not being able to play at the level he once was able to just less than a year ago, and throwing on another setback, Rask says it just wasn’t worth it.
“It couldn’t hold the everyday grind, practicing and playing, that’s what I found out pretty quickly,” he said.
“I’m a guy who makes pretty quick decisions anyways. So, I wasn’t weighing on that too long.”
As Rask mentioned, his return forced Swayman to be sent down to the Providence Bruins, the team’s AHL affiliate — another reason why he retired. The two have some experience as teammates last year, and Rask wants the best for the 23-year-old goaltender, a teammate that Rask cherishes.
Read what Rask told Swayman after he retired here.
As for his life in retirement, which he describes as “great,” hee spends it with his wife, Jasmiina, and three daughters, Vivien, Adelie, and Livia. Rask later was remarked about what the future entails for his retirement and his three daughters.
“Just a lot of family time, taking kids to school, dance classes, a couple of rounds of golf, couple trips here and there, just easy living,” Rask said.
“A lot of golf in the future, as much as I can,” said Rask. “It takes a lot of energy to be home and trying to keep these kids in order. That would be enough for now. Our 2-year-old, especially, is a lot of work.
“They are into dance and whatnot. They like to skate. I mean, if I have to go and spend my days at hockey rinks then so be it, but not really high up on my list.”
Spending the entirety of his 15-year career in Boston, Rask was very appreciative of the “supportive” fans that had the TD Garden “packed” night in and night out, and that whom he felt like he had a “great relationship” with. Boston has been said to be one of the best cities to play for by many players across many sports, though the fans often have rather high expectations.
“In any sport this is a great city to play for, the fans are very supportive and into their sports,” said Rask. “During the time I was playing it was great because we were doing good, the house was packed every night, so it just brings you that extra energy. They’re always very, very supportive when they ran into you around town and saying how much they appreciate what we do on and off the ice.
“I feel like I have a great relationship with them,” he added. “I’m looking forward to celebrating with a bunch of them in the stands tonight. A bunch of people are watching at home and I’m joining them on that side now. We can cheer together and chirp together. It’s great. I’m happy to be on that side.”
Rask’s career included a Vezina Trophy, a Stanley Cup as a backup to Tim Thomas, two All-Star games, Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019, a Bronze Medal, and a number of records.
“I had the luxury of playing here my whole career. We had some great teams, made great friends over the years,” Rask recalled. “I’m very grateful that I was part of that, so I think I look at it like the whole journey itself.
“Meeting a bunch of different people and playing with a lot of great guys, great players, that stands out the most. Obviously, winning the Cup, going to the Olympics, getting that experience, then playing in the Finals twice. Those are some memories that stand out as well.”