Huge news comes out of Toronto during the NHL playoffs. Amid their playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of the NHL’s Return to Play.
#NHLBruins goalie Tuukka Rask has opted out of the NHL's Return to Play: pic.twitter.com/r3c7wjaTwR
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 15, 2020
“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 a statement. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”
The story and reports are still developing, but no one is quite sure as to why Rask has opted out, specifically right now. The Bruins and Hurricanes are tied 1-1 in the first-round playoff series.
The NHL is currently playing playoff hockey in Edmonton and Toronto. Located in a bubble, the NHL has worked with the respective cities to block off a certain area where the players are allowed to go. They are not allowed to leave for any reason (other than personal) and are tested every day for COVID-19.
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 inside the NHL bubble, and for all intents and purposes, the bubble has worked so far. Families of players are not allowed to enter the bubble and must stand 10-feet away from a respective player when seeing them through the gate.
The entire bubble is heavily guarded with fencing, cameras and security, making it difficult for players to leave the bubble on their own, although there have been no reports of players attempting to do that.
Rask is free to opt-out of the NHL season and has a right to do so, but fans are questioning the timing of his announcement. Rask had numerous opportunities to opt-out before the NHL playoffs but is deciding to do so now in the middle of their first-round contest.
This announcement comes roughly two-and-a-half hours before their scheduled contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, set to take place at noon EST.
It is expected that Jaroslav Halak will get the start for Boston, and the Bruins will need to dip into their taxi squad and call another goaltender up to roster. Maxime Legace and Dan Vladar are the other two netminders for Boston, although it isn’t known which goalie will be called upon.
Rask started both games for Boston in the playoffs and his absence leaves a gaping hole in the Bruins’ lineup. Can Boston overcome this adversity later today?