Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask opts out ahead of Game 3
Boston Bruins fans woke up to the alarming news that their number one choice at goalie, Tuuka Rask, had opted out of the remainder of the playoffs ahead of their game three clash with the Carolina Hurricanes.
He made the announcement via a statement through the Bruins organization.
"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 said. "I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success."
As shocking as the move seemed, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney appeared understanding following the statement from the Finnish goaltender.
"We understand completely where Tuukka is coming from," Sweeney said. "I don't think it's any big surprise to us, to be honest. We were privy to some information before the rest of the public. This has been a difficult decision for Tuukka. But the Boston Bruins are in full support of why he made this decision.
His family is safe and healthy, 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."
What makes the decision more interesting is that Rask isn't leaving a struggling team behind.
The Bruins are in the midst of a successful campaign where they earned 100 points before the NHL regular season paused in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rask was enjoying a great year, going 26-8-6 and earning a .929 save percentage.
Stepping into his vacated role is seasoned goalie Jaroslav Halak, who is no stranger to playoff hockey.
Halak is looking to recapture the magic of past playoff performance where he helped eliminate the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins home in 2010, effectively ending the playoff journeys of future hall-of-fame players Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
So far the veteran goaltender is off to a good start as he claimed a 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon, hours after Rask's announcement. The victory gave Boston and a 2-1 series lead. Halak stopped 29 shots and despite one miscue, rallied his teammates around him to claim the win.
It will be intriguing to see how the Bruins soldier on throughout their playoff run. If there is one thing that we learned from this event is that athletes aren't different from us at all. Yes, they may be superhuman between the lines but mental health and being with the ones you love in a time of uncertainty remains paramount.
The consensus amongst fans seems generally understanding of Rask's decision to opt-out. Those that want to disagree and bash him on social media need to put themselves in his shoes and try to imagine what he's going through.