Family Comes First, First NHL Player Opts Out In The Bubble

When the Philadelphia Flyers played the Boston Bruins in Game1 of the round robin, they did not face starter Tuukka Rask. Instead they faced backup Jaroslav Halak.

On Thursday, Tuukka Rask made headlines for his comments post-game about the atmosphere in Toronto. Rask mentioned that games don’t feel like the playoffs.

“To be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there. You’re trying to play as hard as you can. Obviously, you’re playing a best of seven series so there’s going to be some battles going on and whatnot. But when you play at your home rink, you play at an away rink, and there’s fans cheering for you or against you, that creates another buzz around the series. There’s none of that, so it just feels dull at times. There might be five minutes and it’s just coast-to-coast hockey and there’s no atmosphere. It just feels like an exhibition game.” – Tuukka Rask

Whether you like Tuukka Rask or not, something was not right about this comment.

During phase2 of NHL return protocol, Rask broke one of his fingers in a practice. This fracture would limit his availability during the early stages of phase3 & have more time spent at home.

However, due to the summer restart, many players left family at home before returning to their respected cities for these phases. Tuukka returned to Boston from his home in Finland alone. One of the main reasons why was because Rask’s girlfriend was pregnant with their 3rd child.

The NHL protocol was designed to have players tested daily & in their own “bubble” per-say at their homes. This protocol led to zero cases in the NHL. This worked somewhat because many players were alone.

If you ask any NHL player, Tuukka Rask is at the top of the list for family. This was clear & evident last season when Rask needed to leave the Bruins to be with his family. Rask was thankful to the support of not just the Bruins, but the NHL community.

“First and foremost I want to thank all the people that sent me messages, that contacted me and that supported me. Second I’d like to thank the Boston Bruins for giving me some time off to be with my family. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this family with the Boston Bruins. I have a job and my job is to be a hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins. I also have another job title and that’s a family man. This was a time that deep inside my heart I felt like I needed to take this time with my family and make things right so I could be back here and focus on my job.” – Tuukka Rask

Today, the Boston Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask was opting out of the playoffs and returning home. In a statement through the team, Rask said…

“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. I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.” – Tuukka Rask

No one can fault Tuukka Rask for leaving the bubble. Family is more important than what happens on the ice.

In a time in history where it seems nothing is going right in the world, family is everything. The sacrifice that not only the players, but their families as well, are making to make a return to sports possible is very hard. In Rask’s case, it seems to be at a point where it became too hard.

Please keep Tuukka Rask & his family and all the players & their families in your prayers during these tough times.

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