New England Sports 366, #367: Tuuka Rask
Here in New England, it's been a tough crowd since 2002. That ball went through the uprights off Vinatieri's foot, and two years later the Sox reversed the curse months following another Pats Super Bowl. The Celtics and Bruins got into the act, and between 2002 and 2020 the big four New England professional sports teams hung 12 banners from the rafters. Fans in the region, starved since the days of Bird and Company, began to nurture a sense of entitlement, forgetting what the sand of the desert tastes like. Graced with player after player of championship pedigree and Hall of Fame resume, we began to act like Really Good meant Not Good Enough.
Case in point: Tuuka Rask. The Bruins goalminder announced his retirement from the NHL today, and the response from Boston fandom was a collective shrug. We had more angst for the departure of a certain Buccaneers QB than we did for the Bruins goalie. And that's not right. We're talking about the all-time franchise leader for wins between the pipes with 308. More than that, his save percentage (.921) and total games in net (564) are Bruins records. In the postseason, Rask has more games played (104) and more wins (57) than any other goalie in team history. His .925 save % and seven shutouts are second all-time in Boston.
Rask is not remembered for those numbers, though. This is Boston, and it's rings that matter. Of course, he was on the 2011 team we all remember for Thomas and Chara. But it's his failures, the team's failures, in the 2013 and 2019 Stanley Cup Finals we hold him liable for. Just getting there isn't enough in the Century of Champions, oh no. Losing is for losers. And so Tuuka Rask takes his records and his rings to the dustbin of regional sports history. Only the mountaintop matters these days. Lovable losers no more. Now we're just spoiled brats.