BOSTON -- Goaltender Tuukka Rask has experienced pretty much everything during his professional career.
Rask, who was chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2005 draft, then later traded to the Boston Bruins, served as the backup goalie for Tim Thomas during Boston's Stanley Cup championship in 2011. Rask earned the starting job in 2012 and led the Bruins back to the finals in 2013, where the team lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. He won a Vezina Trophy in 2014 as the league's best goaltender. The Finnish native also won an Olympic bronze medal in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Although the Bruins are struggling this season and fired longtime coach Claude Julien, the 29-year-old Rask -- who has 25 of the team's 26 wins -- is the main reason Boston remains in playoff contention. He recently sat down with ESPN.com to discuss why tinkering with goalie equipment is "not cool," whether he plans to play in the Olympics and how he feels about goalies fighting.
ESPN.com: What do you think of the new, smaller goalie pants?
Tuukka Rask: The way they feel, it will increase scoring, for sure. So, [you] just deal with it.
ESPN.com: Why do you feel it will increase scoring?
Rask: They're so much slimmer from your hips and thighs that some pucks that would normally hit your pants will go right through.
ESPN.com: Since the pants are smaller and slimmer, as you describe, does it help a goalie move laterally?
Rask: Not that I've noticed, no. They're a little lighter, maybe, but I don't think it makes a huge difference, actually.
ESPN.com: How do you feel about the NHL continuing to tweak goaltending equipment, while nothing is being changed for skaters?
Rask: Well, to a certain extent, I understand that they want to increase scoring in the game to make it more entertaining. But from a goalie's standpoint, if you start letting in those goals -- a lot of them -- it's going to take the fun out of it for us, which is not cool.
ESPN.com: Another big talking point is whether NHL players will be allowed to take part in the next Winter Olympics. You've won an Olympic bronze medal with Finland, and you've participated in many international events. What are your thoughts about future Olympic participation?
Rask: I think it's a great event. Players really enjoy it. Individually, and as a nation, you represent your country, and it's a special event. It would be really nice to be part of it, but I also understand the business side of it from the owners' standpoint. They don't want to shut down the league for three weeks, and obviously some finances have to be sorted out between who's going to pay the travel and the insurances. There are a lot of question marks, but from an athlete's standpoint, I think it's the ultimate goal to make the Olympics.
ESPN.com: Alex Ovechkin has said no matter what the final decision is, he's going to play for Russia. Where do stand on that?
Rask: I'll just go with the group. I'm not going to leave my team when the season's going on.
ESPN.com: How would you describe your career to this point?
Rask: It's been somewhat successful. I've been part of a Stanley Cup-winning team. I've been in the Olympics. I've won a Vezina Trophy, so there's been some success teamwise and individually. You're always trying to balance that fine line and not think about it too much. I've just tried to work hard and get better as a goalie and as an athlete throughout the years.
ESPN.com: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Rask: Well, my contract is up in four years, so we'll see. I don't like to make too long of plans. I just go year by year and day by day. Hopefully I'm healthy and playing hockey.
ESPN.com: Would you change anything about your career so far?
Rask: No. Not at all. That's the one thing any athlete is trying to accomplish -- to not have any regrets. You always try to prepare yourself the same way and find new ways to get better. It's a constant battle. But I can't say I would change anything.
ESPN.com: Claude Julien was fired after 10 seasons with the Bruins. This is the first time in your NHL career you've been through a coaching change. What was it like to know it was a possibility and then for it to happen?
Rask: It's tough for everybody, especially when you've been with the same coach for 10 years. But then again, everybody's professional and grown-up and understands the business side of this sport. These decisions have to be made at times.
The only thing we can do is try to play good hockey and make the coach look good, whoever it is behind the bench, and obviously we didn't accomplish that with Claude lately. The blame falls on him -- unfortunately and unfairly -- so it's something we have to deal with as players. We'll move on and try to be better, but it's not easy.
ESPN.com: Your teammate, Brad Marchand, recently was lauded by people in the LGBT community when he stood up to a Twitter user who attacked him with a homophobic slur. He also said players in the NHL would accept a gay teammate without question. How do you feel about that?
Rask: I don't think it would be an issue at all. Everybody I know is very accepting and open-minded about these things. It's a big talking point outside hockey -- and outside athletics too -- and everybody seems to be fine with it. So as long as you're comfortable in your own skin, that's all that matters. It will take a lot of courage for somebody to come out.
ESPN.com: How do you think fighting has impacted the game?
Rask: Fights happen. That's the nature of the game. The biggest issue, for a lot of people, was the staged fighting, and those heavyweights are kind of out of the game. There are no set-up fights just to fight. It just kind of happens in the moment, and that's OK in my eyes. We've had a couple of incidents when a fight was about to break out and then the linesman came through and held our guy, and the other guy took a couple of punches, so that's not good. I'm sure that if you ask some of these guys who fight more often they would say that's an issue when the linesman jumps in there at the wrong time. Accidents might happen.
ESPN.com: You've never been in a goalie fight, but you came close once, right?
Rask: A few years ago when we played Carolina, I skated by [the Hurricanes' bench] and knocked Cam Ward in the shoulder. But that's as close as I've come to a fight.