On Friday, it was assumed Tuukka Rask was preparing for the Boston Bruins‘ game against the Carolina Hurricanes. On Saturday, one of the best goalies in the sport announced he was leaving the NHL bubble and opting out for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN.
“I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that’s being with my family,” Rask reportedly said. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”
Rask broke the news to his teammates and the rest of the hockey world just a few hours before his squadmates were due to take the ice for Game 3 against the Hurricanes. Boston will now turn to veteran Jaroslav Halak as the starter for the rest of the playoffs. On Thursday, Carolina tied the series 1-1 after Rask allowed three goals.
While he struggled a bit in this year’s rather unusual Stanley Cup playoffs, he was considered among the best goalies in the league during the regular season. He led the NHL in goals-against average and was second in save percentage.
The Bruins front office said they weren’t as surprised by Rask’s decision as some might have thought. General manager Don Sweeney said they were privy to some information before anyone else and thought Rask might opt out once that information was made known.
Neither Rask or the team have said what that information was, or why the top-notch goalie decided he needed to stop playing, just as the postseason was heating up. It does appear there isn’t a specific threat or danger that led to the decision.
“His family is safe and healthy,” Sweeney told the media prior to the game. “But with a newborn and two other young girls, it’s been challenging. It’s nothing specific. Fortunately, his family is healthy. To have their dad back to be around on a regular basis is exactly what Tuukka needs to do at this point in time.”
Earlier this month, he did go on record as saying he didn’t feel as though playing games without any fans in attendance had the same kind of feel as a normal postseason. The other players and head coach agreed that it wasn’t normal, but said they were dealing with the atmosphere and still needed to play through it.
Rask led his team to the President’s Cup with the best record in the NHL this season. So far, they have struggled in the bubble, losing all their round-robin contests and then losing on Thursday against the Hurricanes.