BOSTON — The “Tuukk” chants for Tuukka Rask started the second Todd Angilly finished the national anthem at TD Garden on Thursday.
They got louder as the JumboTron played a montage of great moments by the Boston Bruins goalie, starting with his infamous milk crate throwing incident with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League in 2009, and ending with a black-and-white image of him in uniform from behind.
Rask, along with his two-year-old daughter, the youngest of his three girls, dropped the ceremonial puck ahead of the game against the New Jersey Devils, as the Bruins honored Rask, who retired from the NHL on Feb. 9.
“I feel like I have a great relationship with them,” Rask said of Bruins fans before the puck drop. “I’m looking forward to celebrating with a bunch of them in the stands tonight and a bunch of people that are watching at home and joining them on that side now. We can cheer together and chirp together.”
Rask intends to remain with his family in Boston and be a brand ambassador for the Bruins.
As he put it, “I’ll be hanging out with sponsors golfing and shaking hands in the suites. … I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe I’ll get into coaching, maybe not, but for now I’ll be hanging out with sponsors.”
Rask spent all 15 NHL seasons with the Bruins after being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for goalie Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006.
Rask was 308-165-66 in 564 games (544 starts), becoming Boston’s all-time leader in wins and second in shoutouts (52), behind Tiny Thompson (74). He had a 2.28 career goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie in 2013-14, the William M. Jennings Trophy with Jaroslav Halak in 2019-20 as the goaltending tandem to allow the fewest goals, and the Stanley Cup in 2011.
The 35-year-old had returned to the Bruins on Jan. 13 after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in July. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract Jan. 11, but played only four games, the last Jan. 24, when he allowed five goals on 27 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and was 2-2 -0 with a 4.28 goals-against average and .844 save percentage this season.
Though his rehab and recovery had gone well, Rask found that his hip couldn’t hold up to the everyday grind of being an NHL goalie. He tweaked his groin and hip against the Ducks, which turned him out to be his final NHL game.
“It just kept aggravating even more,” Rask said. “It was just time to be honest with yourself. I could have kept pushing, but what’s the benefit for me playing at 60 percent and taking time off, taking a week off here, taking two weeks off, and taking a spot away from [Jeremy Swayman]. I just figured it was more beneficial for everybody to call it. I had a great career. I had no regrets.”
Rask said at that point it was an easy call to make, one that took just a few days. He went to Warrior Ice Arena, the team’s practice facility, and alerted general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely and his teammates that his career was over.
“I would have done the surgery anyway at some point because it was at a point where it affected my everyday life,” Rask said. “Now I just did it because I wanted to come back and play because I couldn’t have played without the surgery. I knew that risk going into the surgery that it’s going to go either way. Did the rehab, tried to come back. At least I tried, do you know?
Rask said he expected that, at some point in the future, he will need a hip replacement. It was briefly considered after he took his first MRI and it showed a little avascular necrosis, but specialists advised him that it wasn’t significant enough to warrant it immediately. For now, he should be able to live his life normally, to play golf and tennis, and get in a lot of dad time.
But there will be many things he will miss about being in uniform.
Asked his favorite memory of his career, Rask said, “I think it’s just the whole ride. I had the luxury of playing here my whole career. We had some great teams, made great friends over the years, so I’m very grateful.” that I was part of that. I just look at it as the whole journey itself.”