Rask didn’t expect Thomas to leave, but wasn’t shocked

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Following Tim Thomas’ decision to take a year off, all eyes in Boston will be on Tuukka Rask this season. Rask has served as Thomas’ understudy for three seasons, but now he’ll be the starting goaltender and Boston doesn’t have a safety net in case he falters.

Rask signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Boston Bruins over the summer and, as the Boston Globe reported, he recently returned from Finland for the first time since agreeing to that extension. The question of whether or not Thomas’ actions surprised him naturally came up.

“I wasn’t expecting him to do that, obviously,” said Rask. “But I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to want to be with the family and to take some time off hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but it’s more like I am sad to see him leave because we had a real good connection going on. But I am sure he is happy where he is and gets to spend time with his family.”

Rask hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Thomas returning, but is ultimately focused on just doing his job regardless of the circumstances.

The subject of his contract also came up. The Boston Bruins had interest in signing him to a longer deal, but Rask seems happy with the contract’s length.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you have to roll the dice a bit and see what happens.”

Should he excel in 2012-13 — and there certainly are reasons to be optimistic about his chances — he should end up with a far more lucrative deal.