Exclusive: Andrew Raycroft – From Calder Trophy to the Broadcast Booth
Photo Credit: thehockeywriters.com
Andrew Raycroft may go down in history as one of the Bruins’ most underrated goalies.
As a rookie in the 2003-2004 season, Raycroft held a 29-18-9 record with a .926 save percentage. This ultimately won him the Calder Memorial Trophy.
“That was a good day,” Raycroft said with a smile. “To win an NHL trophy is a dream and to do it such a special year with the team we had and then to cap it off with that. It was a lot of fun for me and for my family.”
The Bruins went 51-19-7 that season, clinching them a playoff berth as the two seed. This set them up to play the rival Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Bruins eventually lost the series 4-3, but the goaltender was far from the season why.
Raycroft had a .924 save percentage in the series, and helped the Bruins win two overtime games, including one double-overtime game, early in the series.
Although the Bruins lost the series, Raycroft still looks back to the double-overtime win in Montreal fondly.
“I mean, winning in double overtime my first year, that’s a game that always sticks out,” Raycroft recounted. “If I had to choose one [memorable game from my career], it’s that double-overtime win for sure.”
There were highs and lows of Raycroft’s career, the NHL lockout could be classified as a little bit of both.
“We saw it coming,” Raycroft said. “It wasn’t a shock or anything like that. I was happy to take another month or two off and have a longer summer.”
But that was before he found out there wasn’t going to be NHL hockey that season.
“Well, once we realized that it was gonna be the whole year I was able to make plans and get over to Finland,” Raycroft said. “Which was a great experience for me to play a few months over there.”
Though it wasn’t an ideal situation for Raycroft, he made it work.
“In hindsight, it wasn’t the best thing to lose a season of my career over it, but I didn’t have much control over that.”
After his Calder Memorial Trophy-winning season, beating out the likes of Michael Ryder of the Montreal Canadiens and Trent Hunter of the New York Islanders.
He was ultimately traded to the Maple Leafs for prospect Tuukka Rask.
He played for multiple teams throughout his time in the NHL, including the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. However, Raycroft noted that moving teams didn’t make that big of a difference to him.
“You definitely learn new cities. You learn how different organizations are run. But overall, hockey wise, there’s nothing different,” Raycroft said. “You’re learning all the time in the NHL. You have to learn to stay relevant. Everybody’s getting better every day. So there wasn’t anything in particular personally, but you do learn to adapt and to get along with teammates and so on.”
Raycroft was no stranger to traveling and exploring. Which is probably what made him decide to make the leap from the NHL to the Italian Hockey League towards the end of his career.
“There’s a lot of differences [between the two leagues] just culturally. And obviously coming from the NHL, which is the best league in the world, to different leagues there are obviously different ways of doing things.”
Besides hockey, these were great experiences to be exposed to different cultures for Raycroft’s family.
“We loved living in Italy, we loved living in Finland, we loved living in Sweden. My son was able to live in those places as well, so it was a great experience for him as well as my wife. It was really a lot of fun.”
Raycroft retired from hockey in 2014, after spending two years playing in Europe.
But, he could not stay away from the sport long.
Raycroft volunteered as goalie coach for the University of Connecticut Men’s Hockey team for a few years when they switched into the Hockey East division.
This is arguably the toughest division in college hockey, housing teams like Northeastern University, Boston College, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
“I was just going out there and trying to help the goalies during the games or for certain little things.”
His career ultimately led him back to the Bruins. This time in a different setting. Raycroft signed with New England Sports Network (NESN), as an analyst for the Bruins, putting him on the other side of the boards, but still involved with the team.
“It’s taken a couple years, slowly but surely. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do or looked to do right away. But I had an opportunity to go in,” Raycroft said. “I’ve kinda caught the bug, I really enjoy it.”
While being on the broadcast side of the Bruins helped Raycroft to stay around the sport, it definitely doesn’t fulfill the hole that retiring from hockey left in him.
Covering the 2018-19 Boston Bruins was definitely a treat for Raycroft though.
“We were there for a lot of the playoff games. I was doing pre and post in the second round. But no, it doesn’t compare to the level [I enjoyed playing] at my worst game ever,” Raycroft explained. “It does fill a bit of a void, though.”
Nothing can compare with playing the sport he loves, but at least he still gets to be around it
“[Covering the Bruins] is challenging enough for me, and I still get to watch a lot of hockey and be around the rink and be apart of it. So I really enjoy it and I’m looking forward to the hockey season getting going and being back up.”