The announcement sent shockwaves around social media and the never-ending 24/7 news cycle. But Rask’s decision wasn’t quite that surprising to GM Don Sweeney.
“We understand completely where Tuukka is coming from. I don’t think it’s any big surprise to us, to be honest with you,” Sweeney said during his Zoom conference call before Boston’s Game 3 tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes. “We’re privy to information maybe before the rest of the public is — and this has been a difficult decision for Tuukka — but the Boston Bruins are in full support of why he made this decision.”
Regardless of family or the unusual playoff atmosphere, Rask attempted to persevere and help his team in their quest to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. But now, with two young girls and a newborn at home, his priorities lie elsewhere.
In a text message with Rask, NESN’s Dale Arnold — during their pregame show — revealed that the all-time winningest goalie in franchise history headed home for a family emergency.
Rask’s detractors came out quickly to denounce his latest actions. Unlike his postgame comments Thursday, it’s difficult to defend his naysayers this time around, especially since his decision revolved around family and not his Game 2 soundbite.
“I mean, again, nothing specific to his direct comments [after Game 2]. I think you can rightfully infer that you know Tuukka was having some tough time being away in this environment. And nothing against what the NHL has put together and the intensity of the playoffs,” Sweeney added.
“This is playoff hockey, I mean let’s make no mistake about it. The stakes are high and the players are invested, and Tuukka in his own right felt that he needed to be elsewhere rather than being here in this current situation.”
Yes, the Bruins are in a tough spot without Rask and an injured David Pastrnak in Game 3. Jaroslav Halak takes over the reins as the primary goaltender. The veteran, who appeared in the first game of Boston’s round-robin play, last played a full series with the Islanders in 2015, but his outstanding outing with the Habs in their unlikely run to the 2010 Eastern Conference Final should give Bruins fans a bit of hope moving forward.
The Bruins have Rask under contract through the end of the 2020-21 campaign. Sweeney has no qualms that he’ll return to Boston whenever training camp begins.
“He’s the same goaltender that went to the Stanley Cup Final in a Game 7 last year,” Sweeney said. “And he’ll be the same player when we get up and running again next year.”
Every player in all realms of sport needs to make the necessary decisions for themselves and their families during this pandemic. It’s hard to fault Rask for choosing to opt out of postseason competition.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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