BOSTON (CBS) — When Tuukka Rask received a phone call that his daughter was not doing well at home, it was an easy decision to leave the NHL bubble in Toronto. But that doesn’t mean it was easy for Rask to leave his team in the middle of the playoffs.
Rask abruptly departed the NHL bubble ahead of Game 3 of Boston’s opening round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. It left the Bruins in a tough spot in net, but considering what was going on at home, Rask has no doubt that he made the right decision.
“I got a call our daughter wasn’t doing so well and they had to call an ambulance. At that point my mind is spinning and I had to get out of there,” Rask said via Zoom on Wednesday, the first time he’s spoken about his bubble departure. “I informed [GM Don Sweeney], we had a brief talk and I left.
“Obviously it was a tough decision to leave, but then again it wasn’t, because I knew it was more important for me to be at home. That was easy to live with,” said Rask. “But you’re home knowing that you could be there — should be there — so it’s tough to watch the games. Your brain is kind of spinning at that point, knowing you’re in the right place but that you should be there to stop the puck.”
The decision to leave the team was met with some outrage by fans (at least until the reason behind his departure came to light), but Rask said that he had the full support of the team and his teammates. That support continued throughout the offseason, and there was no hard feelings when Rask and his teammates were reunited for the start of training camp earlier this week.
“It means a lot,” he said of their support. “We’re a pretty tight group that tries to stick together on and off the ice. It meant a lot they had my back. It’s a great thing to see.”
It’s an important season for Rask, who is entering the final year of his contract with the Bruins. He once again said that he doesn’t want to play anywhere but Boston, and isn’t going to sweat if he doesn’t get a new deal before the season. He’d be open to discussing one during the season, but his focus is on the present and getting ready to be the best netminder he can be.
“I think what the situation is now, everything is upside down with the hockey world. I’m sure Sweeney has a lot on his plate right now, and my contract isn’t on the top of his list,” he said. “I’m comfortable where we are right now.
“I want to go out and start the season right; get in a good groove and play good hockey,” Rask continued. “If the talks happen during the season, so be it. If they don’t, we’ll wait it out. My main focus is getting the season started off right and I’ll worry about the future after that.”
There were rumblings that Rask may retire before the 2021 NHL season, but he is committed to stopping pucks for the Bruins. He’d love to keep playing for a few more years, but that won’t happen with anywhere but Boston.