Tuukka Rask is the best goaltender in Boston Bruins history.
With Rask announcing his retirement on Wednesday, it’s time to contemplate his place in franchise history. While the previous statement will be a tough pill to swallow for some and a statement of fact for others. That’s what makes Rask the most polarizing figure in Boston sports. But does he deserve to be with the likes of Bobby Orr, Rick Middleton, and Cam Neely in the TD Garden rafters, or is he just another great goaltender who has played in Boston?
Let’s look at the tape: Rask retires as the best goaltender in franchise history in multiple categories.
He boasts the most wins (308), most goals saved above average (146), second-most shutouts (52), and second-best goals against average (2.28).
The 34-year-old also boasts two All-Star nods, a Vezina Trophy, a Jennings Trophy, and the second-best goals saved above expected of his goalie generation.
Winning the Vezina in the 2013-14 season, Rask went 36-15-6 with a .930 save percentage and seven shutouts. While it has nothing to do with his Bruins career, he also won a bronze medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics for his native Finland, and that does usually help HHOF consideration from time to time.
From the start of his career, Rask showed that he was special.
In his first season with significant playing time (2009-10), the shot stopper from Savonlinna went 22-12-5 with a .931 save percentage, 1.97 goals against average, and five shutouts; after that, he really never looked back. He was no slouch in the postseason over the course of his career either; with over 100 carer postseason games under his belt, he has a record of 57-46, a .925 save percentage, 2.22 goals against average, and seven shutouts.
Bruce Cassidy described Rask as “one of the elite goaltenders ever in the NHL, not just in Boston.”
Still, the doubters of Rask have their ammunition and will use it viciously.
Critics claim that he didn’t show up in big games and will hold his absence in the bubble against him. The same goes for his inability to lead a team to a Stanley Cup.
But Rask epitomized what it meant to be a Bruin. He was extremely loyal to the organization, even on his last day. Also, the blame for a playoff series win or loss can’t be placed solely on the goaltender, even if he’s the easiest scapegoat.
There are too many times to count where Rask stood on his head or stole a game for the Bruins, but because he looked more calm and collected than the guy who came before him, many fans didn’t see it. Toward the end of his career, Rask always spoke about how he only wanted to play in Boston and took a modest contract to try to come back. While dealing with the nagging hip injury that ended his career, he could have dragged it out potentially hurt the team in the process, but decided to call it quits.
While there are plenty of reasons that Rask heading to the rafters should be a slam dunk, there are a handful of things going against him.
The Bruins have yet to retire a goalie’s number, and they’ve had some good ones.
While he wasn’t here for as long and things ended a bit acrimoniously, one could make an argument that Tim Thomas deserves the same accolade, and it hasn’t come for him yet.
Plus, Rask was “cursed” with playing in a golden generation of Bruins legends: when Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are rafter guarantees, it seems like an awful lot of guys to pile into that same honor.
Still, playing at the same time as a bunch of great players shouldn’t be held against him.
Simply put, Rask is the best goalie the franchise has ever seen, and should be treated as such.
Should Tuukka Rask’s #40 head to the rafters?
This poll is closed