With the fate of the NHL season in jeopardy, Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak is grateful he’ll be in Boston at least one more year regardless of how the next few months unfold.
Halak, who turns 35 on May 13, agreed to a one-year, $2.25 million contract to stay with the Bruins, general manager Don Sweeney announced Friday. Halak had been a pending unrestricted free agent.
Sweeney indicated he’s pleased with the way the Bruins’ two-goalie system with Tuukka Rask and Halak has worked out, noting that he’s comfortable regardless of who is starting in any particular game.
“Jaro, in the last couple of years, has really established himself as a guy that can go in any situation,” Sweeney told reporters Saturday.
Halak, who has an 18-6-6 record with a 2.39 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts) this season, said he’s glad an agreement was reached and that he’s “super excited” to be part of such a special group for another year. The Bruins had the best record in the NHL when play stopped in March, and Halak is confident they can keep it going if they get the chance.
“I think everybody knows that we have unfinished business,” Halak told reporters. “I hope the season can resume and we can start up where we finished.”
Halak called the Bruins a family, adding that the closeness of the group was a main reason he wanted to remain. He said life in quarantine has made him think a lot, and he reached the conclusion that Boston was the best place for him and his family.
Halak joked that he was in the basement “hiding from the kids” during a Zoom call with reporters, then he clarified that his son has helped him stay in shape by firing shots his way. Halak said he’s also gotten a stationary bike, which helps, but he’s itching to get back on the ice. For now, he’s trying to make the most of the situation and put everything in perspective.
“There are always more important things than hockey and sports,” Halak said. “Health is one of them.”
Halak did point out how much he misses his teammates, noting that the Bruins are capable of winning every night. He said it’s been a “special group,” and that he “couldn’t be more happy.”
Sweeney made it clear the feeling is mutual. Whether Rask is on his game or not, Halak has been there to provide a boost.
Said Sweeney: “He gives balance to a hockey club.”