For whatever reason, Tuukka Rask became a polarizing figure among certain Bruins fans since he took over for Tim Thomas full time in 2013. And some of his detractors didn’t cut him slack when he exited the Toronto bubble during Boston’s first-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes as he attended to a family situation.
After some speculation, we now know the specifics of what led Rask to return home, as he recently revealed to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald.
“I got a phone call from my wife, and my daughter was in a state that she needed medical attention and she wasn’t doing well. At that point, I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that,” Rask told Conroy before Shawn Thornton’s annual Putts and Punches charity golf event.
“If you get a phone call wherever you are, like I did, it’s a pretty easy decision. What bothered me a little bit was people thinking that I just left because I didn’t like it there. I’m not going to lie to you, [the bubble] was awful. But if I didn’t have a reason to leave, I wouldn’t have left, obviously. There’s that. But my daughter’s fine now, the family”s good, and it made me feel good. When I got home, they were happy to have me home and things got back to normal pretty quickly, so I knew that I made the right decision. It had nothing to do with hockey or the bubble. It was just the fact that I had to make that decision and I stand by it.”
Jaroslav Halak took over for Rask in the Toronto bubble. The Bruins won the next three contests against the Hurricanes to secure their Round 1 triumph before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in five games of their second-round series.
With his daughter’s improved condition, Rask has his sights set on returning to the Bruins for the final year of his contract. Boston’s all-time winningest goaltender found his name on the trade rumor mill with GM Don Sweeney facing an important off-season to keep the team in Stanley Cup contention.
Rask has a no-trade clause in his contract. He doesn’t appear willing to use that anytime soon.
“I don’t see any reason for that,” Rask told Conroy. “I’ve been here for a long time and the organization’s been so great for me. We’ve built our home in Boston and we call this home. So, yeah, I don’t want to play for anybody else. I think where my heads at is focusing on next year and then hopefully a couple of more years after that and then pass the torch for the next guy after that. I want to help the organization as much as I can.”
The Bruins don’t have many chances left to hoist another Stanley Cup with their over-30 core of Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara if he returns. At age 33, Rask, who could hit the UFA market next off-season, wants to make the most of whatever time he has left in Boston.
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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