The Interview: Rask talks Ovie’s shot, tennis and Googling himself

Photograph by Mackenzie Stroh

I hear you’re a big tennis player.
> Yes, I’ve always liked to play. When I was growing up, summertime was time off from hockey. I played soccer in kids’ clubs and whatever. Tennis was my second summer sport. I just played it and played it. Once I got older I started playing it more and put the soccer on the back burner and started focusing on tennis. It’s a good workout for me.

How’s your serve?
> Ah, it’s good. It’s not like 120 mph, but it’s probably like 90–100. Kick serve, that’s my second serve.

I heard a story about a match with a frying pan.
> Yeah, it was a year ago. I played against a professional player, Henri Kontinen. He played with a frying pan. It was a decent-size Ikea pan. You could cook a good omelette in there. He beat me in two sets.

Ouch. Did you get any points off him?
> Yeah, I lost 6–4, 6–3, so it wasn’t too bad. I’m pretty confident that one more year, two more summers of playing, I’ll beat him.

How do you think tennis helps with your real job?
> It’s one of the toughest sports when you talk about coordination. Golf and tennis, you have to really have a good eye for the ball and know where it’s bouncing. I think that helps, obviously. And it’s a good cardio workout. If you really have a tennis workout it beats going for a jog, that’s for sure.

Are you happy you were traded by the Leafs? That worked out well.
> I can’t say I’m happy. I’m happy how things are now. It worked out pretty well, but you can’t look in the past too much.

Everybody says goalies are weird.
> Yeah, I’ve heard that a couple times. I think most goalies are different because they’re always by themselves out there, doing their own thing. That makes them a little odd at times, but I consider myself a pretty normal person.

Do you love pressure?
> Yeah, I think you have to like it. If you didn’t like it I don’t think you’d be good at the position.

Do you sometimes think it would be nice to be on the fourth line and fly under the radar?
> [Laughs.] Oh yeah. It would be good sometimes. But then again you wouldn’t get paid that much and you wouldn’t be recognized that much.

Right, you like all the glory.
> Exactly.

Whose shot is toughest to stop?
> Ovechkin’s has gotta be the toughest one because you can see his stick is so curved. You’re looking at it from eye to eye, and you can just tell that he has no idea where the puck’s going, but wherever it’s going it’s going hard, and it’s going to hurt you if it hits you. Seeing him wind up for that one-timer, you know the pass is gonna go there and you’re like, “Geez, I gotta save this.” And you hope it hits you somewhere that doesn’t hurt.

Do you think you’ve silenced critics who weren’t sure you could go a full season?
> I don’t know, there’s always going to be critics. Whatever. It’s just part of the game. It doesn’t matter to me. I always try to win no matter what, doesn’t change anything for me, whatever they say.

Do you Google yourself?
> Sometimes. I like to see the pictures that are out there, if there’s any bad pictures. I keep myself in the loop with that stuff.

There’s not much you can do when you see a bad picture.
> No, just feel bad about yourself. That’s all.

Are you into fashion?
> A little bit. I try to look decent. I’m kind of a rock-and-roll type of guy, so I wear a lot of black, a lot of dark colours. As a European, I have to keep it pretty tight, too, so I like the skinny pants and skinny everything.

That tight-fit Euro style is getting big in North America. Have you noticed?
> I’ve noticed, but I mean it only took like six years for them to figure it out, right? It’s the Swedes—they start the trends and the rest of the world follows.

You’re rock and roll. Do you ride a motorcycle or listen to metal?
> No motorcycle. I listen to metal, yeah. Rock and roll and metal, but I listen to everything. I don’t really listen to any tunes before the game.

Do you sit in your stall and ignore everybody like most goalies?
> Right before the game, yeah. [Laughs.]

This story originally appeared in Sportsnet magazine. Subscribe here.

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