Tuukka Rask opts out of playoffs after three weeks in the bubble

Tuukka Rask is heading home. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
Tuukka Rask is heading home. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask is leaving the bubble.

The Boston Bruins announced Saturday morning that their top netminder has chosen to opt out of the NHL’s return to play so that he can return home to be with his family.

Rask released this statement through the team:

“I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.

I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support, and wish them success.”

Rask was in net for both games so far in the Bruins’ first-round series versus the Carolina Hurricanes, earning a split. He raised questions about his mindset following his loss in Game 2 when he shared criticism over the atmosphere inside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, suggesting that postseason games contested in an empty arena is like “like playing an exhibition game.”

In no way, however, did those comments indicate that Rask had one foot out the door.

Boston, which tumbled from the top seed to the No. 4 slot after a winless showing in the round robin, will now lean on Jaroslav Halak for the remainder of its postseason stay. Halak has been a major contributor for the Bruins over the last two seasons despite Rask carrying the load when it mattered most. The backup has 40 wins and eight shutouts in 66 starts over the last two seasons, and a .921 total save percentage.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters that Rask is not attending to an emergency or anything of that nature when choosing to leave, instead that he was just having a difficult time being away from his family and home.

Rask won the Stanley Cup with Boston as a backup in 2011. He’s helped bring the club back to the Stanley Cup Final on two occasions since, only to come up short in each — including last year’s seven-game championship series defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.

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