NESN Diary: Unpacking The Tuukka Rask Retirement Chatter (And Other Random Thoughts)

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Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.

Happy Friday! Here’s to another night of sitting around and watching “Tiger King.”

Seriously though, we hope everyone is both healthy and staying home Friday night and onward, and finding ways to stay sharp mentally, physically and emotionally.

As we get through another week of this new normal, let’s make sure we continue looking out for each other because, again, we’re all in this together.

So, here are some random thoughts for the day:

— I don’t fancy myself an insider or anything, so this is purely speculation. But judging by Tuukka Rask’s latest comments, I do believe he legitimately will consider retirement if he finishes next season without a new contract.

The Boston Bruins goalie has made waves the last couple weeks, beginning with comments to The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter indicating nothing was off the table once his current contract is up. He then clarified those comments on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” but in doing so essentially reaffirmed that he would at least think about retiring.

Rask going to be 34-years-old when his contract is up after the 2020-21 season, has made plenty of money over his career and his name is on the Stanley Cup. It seems like he has interests outside of hockey, a sport that has resulted in a few head injuries for him. He also has two young daughters. In other words, he doesn’t need to keep playing.

But maybe he wants to have his name on the Cup in a playoff run he was the starting goalie for. And the market for goalies has been robust lately, so a guy in his mid-30s that is playing at a Vezina-caliber level very well could get a lucrative, multi-year deal — in Boston or elsewhere.

More Bruins: Taking Stock Of Goalie Situation, Jeremy Swayman Interview | NESN Bruins Podcast Ep. 57

Nothing really would surprise me, and I honestly don’t think Rask knows what he’s going to do either. He’s always forthright with the media, so when he tells you he does something well you can believe he genuinely thinks that since he’ll also be the first to criticize himself. So when he says he’s not already looking to the 2021 offseason, it’s hard not to believe him.

The Bruins’ goaltending pipeline is tantalizing. Dan Vladar was the AHL’s best goalie this season, Jeremy Swayman is a Hobey Baker finalist who just signed his entry-level contract and Kyle Keyser also is remarkably gifted netminder, despite a slow start to his pro career. So when you consider the treasure trove of goalie prospects, Jaroslav Halak being an unrestricted free agent this offseason and Rask’s uncertain future, suffice to say these are interesting times in net on Causeway Street.

— Assuming life is back to normal this August, there’s going to be a pretty incredible Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

It appears Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich and Eddie Sutton will be among those getting recognized in Springfield, Mass, and that is just a heck of a group.

We really are going to be robbed of an induction speech from Bryant, who, along with his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash in January.

Garnett is such a vibrant personality and revered figure in New England that his speech promises to be a must-watch.

Duncan is so respected, even if somehow underrated, that listening to him reflect on his illustrious career is going to be a delight.

As someone who went to Springfield College, I can say through experience that Hall of Fame weekend always is a cool time of year. And given the Class of 2020, I can only imagine what the vibe in the Pioneer Valley is going to be like.

With that in mind, in the event things aren’t completely back to normal by late August and the induction would have to be modified in some way, à la the NFL Draft, just postpone it. This ceremony is going to be too special for it to have to be done in a vastly modified way, so let’s just take our time and do it right.

That said, hopefully normalcy will have returned to us long before Hall of Fame weekend.

Happy 45th Birthday, Koji Uehara!

During this sports pause, we’ve been airing a good bit of the Red Sox’s 2013 World Series run on NESN, and it’s been a great reminder of just how stellar Uehara was during that postseason.

Never mind the fact he had 21 saves and a 1.09 ERA during the regular season, but he was nails in 13 playoff appearances, allowing just one run on seven hits while pitching in some massive spots.

Sometimes, I think guys in Boston more often are remembered for their missteps late in their tenure than for their their high points (Clay Buchholz, anyone?), and I’m glad that hasn’t been the case for Uehara.

He was a wild ride in 2016, a campaign that saw him miss nearly two months due to injury. Sure, he pitched well in two postseason losses to the Indians, but compared to what we had grown used to seeing from him — even during the woeful 2014 and 2015 seasons — it was a big step back.

Being a reliever can be a bit of a thankless job, since bullpen arms typically get their attention when they did something wrong. But Uehara grabbed the region not just through his pitching ability one inning a night, but also through his infectious personality. We were pretty lucky to have him around for four seasons.

Video of the Day
If the seasons resumes, we’re going to have one heck of a race to the finish for the Rocket Richard.

Stat of the Day
Randy Moss reminding everyone that he was, in fact, talented.

Tweet of the Day
As we relive the 2013 World Series, Matt Vautour, a columnist for MassLive, wrote a really good piece published Friday morning about how that team helped him and his family get through a challenging time. It’s a read well worth your time.

More Red Sox: Relive Bill Buckner’s First Pitch Before 2008 Fenway Park Opener

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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