Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask announced Friday he’ll undergo surgery this offseason to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
Rask expects to have the procedure within the next month or so, which, according to the 34-year-old, could put him on track to return in January or February.
“It was hard, because I had (the injury) all year,” Rask said Friday during a Zoom conference. “We got to manage my workload really well during the season, so you don’t have to play a lot of games in a row, and then obviously in the playoffs you play every other night, so it’s harder. But it never got to a point where I couldn’t play.
“The reason why I missed time during the season was because I was compensating that hip injury with my other muscles and then my back seized up and I could barely walk for a week over there. That’s why I missed time. The hip itself was never the issue. It just locks up on me every once in a while, and that’s why you see me kind of limping out there. Obviously, it’s not easy to play with a labral tear as a goalie. But like I said a couple of days ago, I feel like our training staff did a great job maintaining it and keeping me out there.”
Rask’s projected timeline means he likely will miss the start of the 2021-22 NHL season, which already is filled with uncertainty for the veteran netminder, as he’s set to become a free agent this summer.
Rask said Friday he intends to keep playing but only for the Bruins, with whom he has spent his entire 14-year NHL career. He even expressed a desire to serve as a mentor for Boston’s younger goalies, including Jeremy Swayman, who’s coming off a strong rookie season and replaced Rask for the third period of Boston’s Game 5 loss to the New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Rask said he dealt with his hip injury throughout this season after initially feeling a pop last August during the Bruins’ playoff games against the Carolina Hurricanes inside the Toronto bubble. He believes the injury could be a product of both that incident and natural wear and tear over the years.
“I made a quick stretch, I reacted to something, and I felt the pop there,” Rask said. “It wasn’t something that felt awful. It was just something definitely happened. I’m guessing that along with the wear and tear over the years is what happened. But obviously when you play goalie as much as I have, and with the butterfly style, these things happen at some point almost to everybody. Maybe it was just a combination of both.”
Rask is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.28 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in 24 regular-season games, before then posting a 2.36 goals against average and a .919 save percentage in 11 playoff games.