Tuukka Rask is a lightning rod.
And you know what? The Boston Bruins goalie is cool with it.
The longtime Bruins goalie knows passionate fans will speak their minds when things aren’t going well, just as they’ll be vocal in their support when everything’s peachy. Simply put, facing the heat comes with the territory of being an NHL netminder.
“There’s a reason I don’t read social media, or the news really, because when you get caught up in that, it might be mentally tough,” Rask said Friday during a video conference. “So it really doesn’t affect me because I don’t hear that noise. Like I think I’ve said many times before, people have opinions. They have the right to say whatever they want to say, as long as it’s in some kind of good limits. I respect that. It doesn’t affect my game.
“I feel like every time I go out on the town or wherever, people have been really supportive. It’s not like I go to the grocery store and people are throwing eggs at me or yelling at me over there. That might suck. People talk on social media, whatever the topic is. It seems like everyone has an opinion on everything. It doesn’t bother me.”
The outside criticism might not bother Rask, a 14-year NHL veteran who’s had both highs and lows throughout what ultimately has been a very successful run with Boston. But several teammates explained Friday, two days after the Bruins were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, that any disapproval of Rask is misguided.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better (than seeing Rask prepare in the playoffs). He’s a world-class goalie, a world-class person. So it’s awesome to learn from him. He battled and I think everyone knows it. His compete level is unmatched, and he brings a fire every day, especially when it’s a playoff atmosphere. It’s awesome to see that in some of the games that he stole, especially in Washington. It was pretty phenomenal to watch, and again, I learned so much just from watching what he does and seeing how he takes care of his body. It was a really special experience and I’m super happy about that.”
“Being a goalie is a tough job. They get all the praise when you win, and they get all the heat when you lose, and unfortunately that’s part of the job. Tuukks is the backbone of this team, and he’s such a competitor. To battle through what he went through speaks volumes of where he wanted to compete and battle for this group, his desire to win. Those are the things that you don’t see behind the scenes. There are a lot of guys that were hurt and playing through injuries and stuff and catch a lot of heat. At the end of the day, that’s kept private and the respect that they gain amongst our group is astronomical when you’re willing to play and put yourself through pain and compete for the team and to win. That’s part of this organization and the culture here. I have a lot of respect for Tuukks and what he tried to put himself and his body through to win this year. It’s just unfortunate that we weren’t able to do it for him.”
“As a hockey player, you know that the fans, or even the media, are going to bite off anything for criticism of you. That’s the same thing, you guys are doing your job just like we’re playing hockey out there. Obviously, I think Tuukka is one of the best goalies in the whole world, and I definitely don’t think he deserves the criticism he’s getting. Just because he left on the family basis (last postseason). Family comes as number one for every single person in the world. And health is number one, no matter what you do and no matter what kind of business you are in. For us, I have a huge amount of respect for Tuukks, and I definitely don’t think the criticism is right.”
“I think that stuff kind of bounces off him, or at least it looks like it. The criticism he gets is just insane. It’s got to be people who just don’t watch closely or what, but we all know what Tuukka brings and how good he is. What he plays through, what he’s done for us, what he’s done for the organization. For anyone to criticize him is — I guess someone used the word ‘bozo’ before, so. It’s just stupid. Tuukka’s just one of the best goalies, and he’s been doing it for however long now, playing through stuff. Not most know what’s going on behind the scenes and what guys go through, what he goes through, what he plays through. He does it, and he does it pretty well. We love Tuukks, we all know what he brings every day, and I think Tuukks knows that and that’s all we need.”
“I think for him, he never really shows it around us. He doesn’t complain about anything, really. He shows up and he’s like, ‘I’m sore,’ and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong,’ and he’s like, ‘Nothing.’ I have a ton of respect for the guy. He’s been through a lot here. He’s one of the best goalies pretty much of all time. He’s still tough to score on in practice every day. He competes in games, so I have the utmost respect for that guy.”
“I know we all believe in Tuukks, he’s one of the best goalies in the NHL, so it’d be great to have him back.”