Tuukka Rask is a creature a habit. Throughout the course of his 12-year career with the Bruins, the netminder has never changed the design of his mask.
And he doesn’t plan on any alterations anytime soon.
“I think that once you have it, it’s cool to keep it because you kind of become known for that if you wear it for 10 years,” Rask said of his signature growling bear design. “I don’t think my mask is that cool like some of the old ones, but I’ve worn it many, many years and never changed. And never gonna, probably.”
But there is one special occasion for which Rask is open to switching things up.
Rask has donned custom masks both times the Bruins have taken part in the Winter Classic. And when the Black & Gold go back outdoors to take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day, Rask will once again be wearing a fresh helmet, designed in part by assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer and painted by Jesse’s Custom Design in Wilmington, Mass.
Rask, who debuted the mask during Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, will pay tribute to historic Notre Dame with the University’s iconic Fighting Irish leprechaun – clad in the Bruins’ Winter Classic sweater – featured prominently on the top of the helmet.
The sides will include the Bruins’ blocked-B Winter Classic logo, as well as Notre Dame’s famous Golden Dome. Along with the initials of Rask’s two daughters, the football team’s “Play Like A Champion Today” sign is emblazoned on the back.
“It looks pretty good, courtesy of Matt Falconer,” said Rask, who named Gerry Cheevers’ famous stitches mask as his favorite of all-time. “I give him all the credit when anybody asks me. He really wanted to make one…he designed it and Jesse painted it. It looks good. All the credit to Jesse.”
Rask said his helmet from the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium is his favorite of the three outdoor games. That one paid homage to the New England Patriots, with Tom Brady on one side and Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Stephen Gostkowski on the other, as well as the team’s Pat the Patriot logo on the top.
“I liked the last one. It came out real nice,” said Rask. “I actually played with it. Saw Tom – the Pats were practicing, so Brady saw it before the practice, so he liked it. The other guys liked it too. I think that was the coolest.”
In 2010, for the Bruins’ first Winter Classic at Fenway Park, Rask’s mask featured a growling bear ripping apart a New York Yankees jersey.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy named Rask the starter for the Bruins’ tilt with Buffalo on Saturday night, but has not yet decided whether Rask or Jaroslav Halak will start in South Bend.