- Tim Burke
Tuukka Rask Deserves To Have His Number Hanging Up at the TD Garden Rafters
Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Tuukka Rask announced his retirement from the NHL on February 9th. Rask, who turns thirty five next month, was forced to retire after lingering effects from major hip surgery that he received after the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. This is the day a lot of Bruins fans have been waiting for. They are in for a rude awakening. Tuukka Rask is without question the greatest goalie in the history of the Boston Bruins. Rask finished his career with the most wins in Bruins history (308), playoff wins (57), highest SV% .921 and the most saves with 15,575. His numbers speak for themselves, Tuukka Rask is qualified to have his number hang from the rafters at the TD Garden. Despite the Bruins having a rich history of having incredible Hall of Fame Goaltenders such as Tiny Thompson and Gerry Cheevers, the Bruins do not have a goaltender they have considered worthy of a number retirement. Will Rask be the first? I believe he certainly should be. The only arguments against him is that he never won a Stanley Cup as a starting goaltender. That should not be held against him.
Tuukka Rask leads the Bruins in several categories but is the less accomplished in terms of Stanley Cups and Vezina Trophies. Unlike Thompson and Cheevers, Rask has played in the NHL with twenty nine or thirty other opponents compared to Thompson who played in the era of the original six NHL teams and Cheevers who played against sixteen. With more competition it makes it more difficult to win championships and individual awards. Rask does have a Vezina Trophy from 2014 and led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, he lost both and Boston fans and media will not let him forget it. Boston Sports Media poisoned the minds of fans by creating the narrative that Tuukka Rask never performed when “it mattered most” which means the playoffs. Realistically, bitter angry sports talk show hosts such as 98.5’s Michael Felger wanted to give the Bruins fans a scapegoat for two heartbreaking Stanley Cup losses. A lot of Bruins fans listened to Felger and chose to believe his false narrative on Tuukka Rask. In fact, Tuukka Rask was better in the playoffs. His career Playoff Save Percentage of .925% is not only elite but better than his regular season totals.
Many Bruins fans do not see it but the number one reason they have been so successful the past few years has been Tuukka Rask. The Bruins spent multiple seasons where they did not win a game Tuukka Rask did not start. This led to Rask carrying an insane workload. Rask spent three consecutive seasons playing in over sixty four games, which is an insane amount. They needed him in net nearly every night just to compete for a playoff spot.However, Boston media and fans were again ungrateful to Tuukka Rask continuing the narrative “the Bruins can never win a Stanley Cup without Tuukka Rask.” Championships are a team accomplishment. People hate to hear it but the Bruins lost two Stanley Cups Finals to two better teams. The 2013 Blackhawks were a team in the middle of a dynasty who hardly lost all season. The 2019 St. Louis Blues were the hungrier team that outmuscled the Bruins for the entirety of the seven game series. They won nearly every battle and played poor hockey but Rask received most of the blame for the Stanley Cup loss. Rask not showing up in big moments is a myth. Rask’s .934 SV% in the 2019 playoffs was the only reason the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup Finals to begin with. His 2013 performance was stellar with a SV% of .940 which is equal to Tim Thomas’s 2011 playoffs where he won the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup. At the end of the day, all you need to know about Tuukka Rask is one simple stat.
All time NHL SV% Leaders
Dominik Hasek (.922%)
Juuse Saros (.922%)
Ken Dydren (.922%)
Tuukka Rask (.921)
Not only is Tuukka Rask the greatest Bruins goaltender of all time but he was one of the greatest in NHL history. Unfortunately, he has not not been treated as one. Bruins fans were spoiled by Tim Thomas’s remarkable 2011 playoff performance. Unbeknownst to many, Rask gave the Bruins two golden opportunities to win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and 2013 with performances equal to Thomas’s 2011 season. Unfortunately, the Bruins fell short of a Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2019. Again, winning a championship is a team accomplishment not a player accomplishment. The Boston Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup in over a decade because of Tuukka Rask. They have not won because they never have a team good enough to win the Stanley Cup in that time frame. The Boston Bruins would be fools to not honor Rask with a number retirement ceremony.