Are you ready to give it up for Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins fans?
Bruce Cassidy certainly is.
The Bruins head coach hailed the legendary goaltender Wednesday, one day before the B’s will honor Rask’s career at TD Garden in a ceremonial puck drop. Rask retired Feb. 9 due to lingering effects of offseason hip surgery, and Thursday night’s ceremony gives fans their first in-person chance to embrace him collectively since he left the ice.
“I think his career was outstanding, résumé speaks for itself,” Cassidy said at a press conference, as seen in team-provided video. “He managed to stay healthy for most of it as well, which is always important. Arguably the best Bruins goaltender of all time — those are always subjective, open to debate.”
Although Rask spent each of his 15 NHL seasons with the Bruins, people sometimes forget the Toronto Maple Leafs picked him No. 21 overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Toronto traded Rask to Boston in June 2006 in exchange for Andrew Raycroft, who had won the NHL Calder Memorial Trophy winner as rookie of the year two seasons prior.
Boston benefitted from Rask over the long term, as he was a member of the Stanley Cup-winning 2011 Bruins, won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 and was a two-time NHL All-Star. He also holds Bruins goaltending records with 564 games played and 308 wins.
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Cassidy reflected on the Rask trade and suggested the goaltender’s Boston legacy will continue to grow in retirement.
“Good teammate, every guy in the room would tell you that,” Cassidy said. “He’s a really good Boston Bruin, and I’m glad we traded for him out of Toronto to be honest. It was a good move to get him here and it worked out really well.
“He’s still in the community. He’s got three daughters here and he’s staying here. He’s a Bruin. Whether that remains obviously is a family decision down the road, but I think that’s important to the guys that were Boston. (They) love it here and stay here, I think it speaks to how they feel about the organization as well.”
Cassidy concluded by highlighting one crucial way Rask made his job much as Bruins boss much easier.
“Nice to know you’ve got a guy in there who gives you a chance to win every night. Very consistent, very rarely did he have an off night. So for a coach that’s comforting as well to know that you have that. We’ve built our system around defense here for years, and without a good goalie that can be difficult to sell to the players if you don’t get the stops when you need them. He was a big part of that obviously.”
The ceremonial puck drop will take place at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday at TD Garden prior to the start of the Bruins versus New Jersey Devils game. Watch the ceremony and Bruins-Devils in full on NESN. Pregame coverage will begin at 6 p.m.