Jaroslav Halak is happy to be staying with the Boston Bruins after agreeing to a one-year extension on Friday worth $2.25 million.
“Since I came, I’ve enjoyed the team. It’s been a special group,” Halak said on a call with reporters Saturday. “I think I’ve blended in with the guys and we had some success, but I think everyone knows that we have unfinished business and I hope the season can resume and we can start up where we finished. I’ve had a lot of fun the last two seasons and hopefully the season can continue.”
It’s been a productive second season in Boston for Halak, who has posted a 2.39 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage while forming arguably the league’s best goalie tandem with Tuukka Rask.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that discussions with Halak started early in the year and he is happy to see the goalie return for another season.
“We are fortunate that through the course of the year he was playing very well, the tandem working well, the way (head coach) Bruce (Cassidy) wants to utilize his goaltending and what we’ve been set up to do the last two years,” Sweeney said Saturday. “It’s been really beneficial for both goaltenders in our organization.”
Sweeney said it was a long process in finding common ground between the team and Halak, but he appreciates the work Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, did to give the organization flexibility moving forward.
Halak very well could have courted multi-year offers from other teams if he waited to hit free agency after the season, but he felt staying in Boston was the best decision for him and his family.
“You always want to think about taking the best option possible, not only for yourself, getting older, having kids, you got to look at your family as well. Being happy in Boston is one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to stay here,” Halak said. “Not only for me, but anyone would want to see what kind of options you have while you’re on the free market but I think the decision was made based on having the great team we have and the teammates we have. We all get along and like I said, a special group since I joined and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Sweeney said he understood the prospect of Halak’s value on the open market and that he’s appreciative of him accommodating to sign a one-year deal. He added that the team moved some performance bonuses to give him an incentive to stay.
With reports of the 2020-21 season starting in December, it could lead to a compacted 82-game season — emphasizing the need to have a solid goalie tandem. While Sweeney recognizes the balance Rask and Halak bring to the team, the discussions were squarely focused on Halak and his play.
“When we entered the discussion with Jaro, it was all about Jaro and the way he plays and blocks,” Sweeney said. “It’s more reflective of Jaro and the job he’s done. He’s been working really well with our coaching staff and with Tuukka so he fits in with our team and the identity of our group.”
When asked about how much longer he wants to play, Halak said he’s taking it day-by-day. Right now, his main focus is winning.
“I just want to bring my best every night. I hate losing. I’ve hated it since I was a kid and with this team, we have a chance to win every night. That’s the biggest reason why you play the sport, you want to win,” Halak said. “I think winning and winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for everybody on this team, the fans and the organization and we’ll do everything that we can to accomplish that.”