Free agent Tuukka Rask takes next steps towards return


BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 22: Tuukka Rask # 40 of the Boston Bruins watches during the second period of the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on October 22, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

A set of familiar masks and pads returned to the sheets at Warrior Ice Arena this week, as free agent Tuukka Rask jumped onto the ice and took the next steps in his recovery from hip surgery during the season. dead.

“He skates on his own without gear, he doesn’t shoot, I know that part,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday. “He’s here in the morning to work with some of our coaches, uses the facilities, and then he leaves. Usually there is a crossover when we walk in, but we offered this to him and I think it worked well. Tuukka just arrived, being a good professional, doing his job, and I think it went well for him, allowing him to do that.

A free agent for the first time in his NHL career, Rask’s return to the ice is hilarious in the sense that he still wears a Bruins jersey, still has his Bruins protections and mask on, and works with the members. Black and Gold training and support staff. He’s a free agent in contact status, really. Especially considering how openly the team has been talking about returning to the squad at some point in 2021-2022, from management to the coaching staff to Rask himself.

There is also no rush to strike a deal. Rask has no plans to play anywhere else (and he’s already said he’ll become a “cheap” goalie when he returns), and he shouldn’t be ready for at least a month or two, like the Cassidy confirmed.

“I was originally told that the schedule for him to come back to play – anywhere, whether in Boston or elsewhere – would be January through February,” Cassidy said. “And I guess the best I can tell you is he’s on the right track for this.”

As for any potential embarrassment along the way, Linus Ullmark has previously said he’s not worried about a potential Rask return, and Jeremy Swayman’s status as a player with minor league options precludes which would be a real traffic jam in the net. But Cassidy also believes Rask has kept in touch with Swayman and his other (currently former) teammates throughout his recovery.

“I don’t know if he knows Ullmark from his previous relationships, [but] I know him and Swayman got along well, and I thought it was good, ”Cassidy said. “I guess they talk periodically. I think that’s part of the business. You can be friends with people, regardless of the team [they’re on] after a while, then I imagine there is a bit of that.

Rask, 34, who is the franchise’s all-time leader, went 15-5-2 with a .913 save percentage in the 2021 regular season, and has won six games and posted a .919 save percentage during his 11-playoff game.

The Bruins currently have the 23rd best even-strength save percentage in the NHL at .907.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group or any affiliate. Shout at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.

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