The Boston Bruins are looking to get younger, but one of their constants remains veteran goaltender Tuukka Rask. The 30-year-old set career highs last season in wins (37) and shutouts (eight), then underwent offseason groin surgery. After six weeks of recuperation and vacation in his native Finland, Rask says he's rejuvenated. In a conversation with ESPN last week in New York, Rask -- who won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and the Vezina Trophy in 2014 -- dishes on the evolution of hockey in his native country, Patrik Laine-mania, why the NHL is not a goalie-friendly league and whether his kids will ever play hockey.
ESPN.com: How has the NHL changed since you entered the league?
Rask: It's been crazy. I've been in the league seven or eight years, and I feel like it's a totally different game now. The speed is the biggest thing. Every young player who comes into the league now seems to be flying out there.
ESPN.com: It also seems like we've seen a huge influx of Finnish players.
Rask: We've had some down years, but the past two or three years now we have had some very, very high prospects. They've done something right there. They should've done that to me. [laughs]
ESPN.com: What do you attribute that to? Has Finland's youth program or philosophy changed?
Rask: I do think they modified their mindset -- and game plan -- [about] how to teach these kids. When we were growing up, it was all about fair play, [letting] everybody play. Team this, team that. Now I think they're paying attention to individuals, coaching [them] a little bit more and not making it all about everyone playing all the time. Now it's, 'The best team is playing, and let's try to make better individuals.'
ESPN.com: Finland used to be a goalie factory. Is it still producing them?
Rask: Everything is transferring to offense now. Everyone is talking about Laine now. Everyone wants to be Laine, a goal scorer. It used to be that everyone wanted to be goalie like [Miikka] Kiprusoff.
ESPN.com: When you were back in Finland this summer, was everyone talking about Laine?
Rask: He's all over the news. In the newspapers a lot. Every time you open the internet, there's something about him. People click it.
ESPN.com: Do you know him at all?
Rask: We live in the same town, but we played for rival teams. He's a lot younger than I am, but I spent time with him at the World Cup last year. He's a pretty quiet guy to begin with. He doesn't want to be in the spotlight, but it seems it comes with the territory, and he deals with it in a proper way. He's definitely not a guy who would be out there pushing himself in the media. It's impressive for a 19-year-old kid.
ESPN.com: Is it the same level of fame as Teemu Selanne had?
Rask: Oh, yeah. I guess it's because of their careers, because you can compare them [playing] with Winnipeg and whatnot. [The media] likes to hype that up. [Selanne has] gotten that status, and then [Laine is] going to have it.
ESPN.com: Now that you're eight years in, do you ever feel like the old guy in the room?
Rask: Not really. I'm pretty young at heart, so I get along with these kids. I'm sure that moment will come at some point. Maybe that's when I'll be out and decide, 'I'm too old for this s---.'
Sometimes a rock band is playing on the radio, like Metallica or whatnot. And [the younger players] are like, 'Who is this?' Kids have no idea. Then vice versa. They talk about these rappers and hip-hop stars and I'm like, 'I have no idea.'
ESPN.com: You've played in a few different leagues. Do you think the NHL is a goalie-friendly league?
Rask: [Immediate laughter]. No! Do you?
ESPN.com: I just wanted to see your reaction.
Rask: They're probably trying to take our masks off!
ESPN.com: What changes would you recommend?
Rask: They can stop cutting down our gear. It's definitely not goalie-friendly, though. You can ask any goalie in the league and they'll tell you the same thing. But it's fun, we love it. I would be fine with that, cutting the gear down. Really. Just don't chirp me when I let in four or five goals. And I can't say, 'Hey, it was the pants. My gloves are too small.'
ESPN.com: Do you think people are underestimating the Bruins this season?
Rask: You tell me. I haven't read anything. I don't think we're going to be the top pick for the Stanley Cup. We're flying under the radar, I guess. But the league is so even nowadays, as we saw last year in the playoffs, that it doesn't matter where you end up. As long as you get into the playoffs, you get a shot. We're same as any other team: we're just trying to be good enough to make the playoffs. I have a good feeling about our group after that.
ESPN.com: The sports teams in Boston seem to have really good relationships. Have you become close with any other Boston athletes?
Rask: I'm really good friends with Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots kicker. We actually went to see their practice the other day. He was riding the bike for like an hour and a half and then didn't even kick the ball. I'm like, 'Is that boring, or what?' Stuff like that you don't get to see, so that's kind of cool. He's the only kicker. We've talked about [how similar our jobs are]; it's just him out there -- just like me -- and he has to kick that field goal.
ESPN.com: What accomplishment outside of hockey are you most proud of?
Rask: My kids. I have two girls: [ages] 3 and 1.
ESPN.com: Do you think they'll play hockey?
Rask: Not a chance. Our youngest one will play something, because she's crazy. The oldest one is more artistic. I don't want them to play hockey. They can play tennis. Maybe I don't want the girls to go through the same road I've been through. Or maybe I'm just selfish and I want them successful in tennis or golf and I get to be part of that.
ESPN.com: You play with Zdeno Chara, who [at age 40] seems to be pushing the limits when it comes to longevity. What have you learned from Chara about the way he cares for his body?
Rask: He's an inspiration to everybody. Watching him work out and how much effort he puts into it is amazing. I hope that I would be the same way. There's no other guy like him. You don't last in the league that many years if you don't work as hard as he does. He lifts weights and does a lot of the same stuff we used to back home in Europe. It's a little bit different here. But lately he's stretching a lot too, because he's a big body, so he can have that flexibility as well.
ESPN.com: What do you like most about the city of Boston?
Rask: It's easy to go anywhere. It's got that big-town feel, but it's manageable, sizewise. It feels very European. It is very European. That's why we have fallen in love with that; we feel like it's our own. You've got the water around you, and these historic buildings. I love it.