Leave Tuukka Rask Alone

  1. On Saturday morning Boston Bruins longtime goaltender Tuukka Rask issued a statement ahead of the Bruins’ Game 3 matinee 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,” the statement read.

My immediate reaction after reading this was a scream of “WHAT?!” to myself while eating a bowl of cereal. After his comments the other night about him not really sensing a playoff atmosphere in the bubble, I was confused and angry that he would then decide to leave the team.

This also isn’t the first time the Vezina Trophy Finalist has taken a leave of absence from the team. In November of 2018, Rask took some time away to tend “to a personal matter” before rejoining the black and gold.

But then I thought about the current situation a little more. Rask and his wife, Jasmiina, welcomed their third daughter to the family in April. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress that his wife is going through after giving birth to a daughter in the middle of a global pandemic and then seeing her husband leave the country to go play hockey in Toronto.

How can I or anyone who doesn’t have all the information judge Rask in any way? How hard is it to be a decent human being and respect a person’s decision to be with their family in such uncertain times?

We, as fans, tend to put athletes on this pedestal when in reality they’re just people like the rest of us.

The Bruins were in full support of Rask’s decision:

That being said, it was very sad to see some of the reactions on Twitter from fans and the media. Some people were mad at Rask for leaving the team after having already agreed to play.

Others were glad that he was leaving so Jaroslav Halak could get the start which brings me to another point: why has Rask received so much hate during his tenure with the Bruins and did that past hate fuel these negative reactions?

It certainly can’t be the stats, right?

Although Rask was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the goaltender has spent his entire playing career in Boston.

Since Rask played his first NHL game in the 2007-08 season, he has appeared in a total of 536 regular season contests. Among goalies who have played in at least 100 regular season games since the 2007-08 season, Rask ranks first in goals-against average (2.26), second in save percentage (.922), fifth in shutouts (50) and eighth in wins (291).

Rask has also stood between the pipes for 93 playoff games in his illustrious career. Among goalies who have played in at least 40 playoff games since the 2007-08 season, Rask ranks sixth in GAA (2.20), sixth in SV% (.926), sixth in shutouts (7) and third in wins (51).

Just take a look at last year’s postseason as well. Rask led the Bruins to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final with a whopping 2.02 GAA and .934 SV% in 24 playoff games. Yet all people saw was Game 7 when the entire Bruins team struggled to generate any sort of offense.

I don’t know where all this hate comes from and I truly never will.

I sincerely hope Rask did not play his last game in Boston because I still believe he has a lot left in the tank. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2020-21 season but regardless of the situation, Rask, a Stanley Cup champion, doesn’t owe Boston anything.

Ethan Nash

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