Rask ready to prove himself again

MIDDLETON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask became the highest-paid player in franchise history this summer with his new eight-year deal worth $56 million, but he says no amount of money will change his mindset.

The 26-year-old netminder will enter the 2013-2014 season when training camp begins on Sept. 11 with no contract issues. He no longer needs to prove he can have success at this level. He only needs to concentrate on stopping the puck, and that should make things easier for him.

“Yes and no,” he said. “Yes, you’re always kind of trying to work yourself up and try to get yourself some kind of status in people's eyes, but every season you start from scratch and have to prove yourself again at some level. Obviously, it helps that you have a long contract and you can focus on your job and don’t worry about the contract every year. It helps in that way, but still every year is different and you have to be worth your money, no matter how much you make.”

After losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals, Rask returned to his native Finland and spent his downtime playing golf and tennis with friends and family. To him, it’s been a normal summer despite the shorter offseason.

He plans on getting back on the ice in a week or two, but he’s been in the gym working out and playing plenty of golf and tennis.

“Health-wise I’m feeling really good,” Rask said. “That’s always a plus.”

The one question entering training camp is who his backup will be, since Anton Khudobin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes last month. Providence Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg and recently signed Chad Johnson will vie for the backup role. Either way, Rask says he’s preparing for the season as he normally would.

“When you get yourself ready for the season, you always kind of plan to play 82 games,” he said. “I don’t think I can play in 50, 60, 70 games, and it all depends how you’re playing, too. I know [Svedberg], meeting him last year and seeing him practice, he’s a great goalie. I don’t know too much about Chad but I’ve heard he’s a really good goalie, a big guy. I’m sure whoever it will be, it’s going to be a good situation for us.”