Tuukka Rask opted out of the Boston Bruins' playoff run in the NHL's Toronto bubble last August to be with his family, and the goaltender explained how serious the decision and situation was in first media availability of training camp.
“Everything happened so quickly,” Rask told reporters in a team Zoom call on Wednesday. “I got a phone call the night before that our daughter wasn’t doing so well. They had to call an ambulance.
"At that point, my mind is spinning. I’m like ‘I need to get out of here.’ So then, the next morning I informed (Bruins president) Cam (Neely) and we had a brief talk and I just left.”
The Bruins announced Rask's decision less than two hours before Game 3 of their playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes on August 15.
The Bruins' players publically supported Rask and the veteran netminder said he knew he made the right decision.
“It was a tough decision to leave, but then again, it wasn’t,” Rask said. “I knew it was more important for me to be home at the time. So, that was easy to live with.
"On the other hand, you’re home, knowing you could be there, you should be there playing hockey. So, it’s tough to watch the games. Your brain is kind of spinning at that point, knowing you’re at the right place at home but then again you should be there stopping pucks. So, it was tough for a few weeks.”
Rask added that returning to camp this week was not a problem and his teammates backed his decision because they "knew what was going on" at the time.
“No issue coming in here,” he explained. “We’ve been in touch throughout the summer and had discussions with whatever in life with teammates. There’s no issues coming back.”
A Vezina Trophy finalist who won the NHL's top goaltender award in 2014, Rask was 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 in 2018-19, he led the NHL with a 2.12 goals-against average and was second in save percentage and shutouts last season.
Rask, 33, will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.