BOSTON (AP) — Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has opted out of the defending Eastern Conference champions’ playoff run to be with his family, the team said on Saturday morning — less than two hours before he was to start Game 3 of their series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“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,” Rask said in the statement released by the team. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”
General manager Don Sweeney said during a conference call 80 minutes before the game that Rask left the NHL’s bubble in Toronto to be with his wife and three young children, including a newborn. Jaroslav Halak started the game and stopped 29 shots to beat the Hurricanes 2-1.
“Maybe this is Jaro’s year,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who found out about Rask’s decision from Sweeney on Saturday morning. ”Tuukka had a great run last year. So that’s certainly something we can rally around but by the same token it wasn’t going to be the end of the world to have Jaro in there.”
A Vezina Trophy finalist who won the NHL’s top goaltender award in 2014, Rask is the highest-profile player to opt out of the return to play from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. After leading Boston to the Stanley Cup Final last year, he led the NHL with a 2.12 goals-against average this season and was second in save percentage and shutouts.
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Pix – Chris Young and Canadian Press Via AP