There's been a lot of speculation about why Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask abruptly left the NHL playoff bubble in Toronto last weekend. In his own words, Rask said that "at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family."
But, right or wrong, the timing of his decision to exit left some to question his motives. Just a few days prior to Rask's departure, the goaltender was critical of the atmosphere and intensity level surrounding the experiences of bubble hockey. After the Bruins' lost Game 2 of their first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Rask said it "doesn't really feel like playoff hockey out there" and likened the experience to "playing an exhibition game."
Some speculated that these comments may have been tied to his decision to leave, wondering whether he was truly invested in the Bruins' playoff run or mentally checked out.
However, it was also intimated that Rask may have been dealing with some personal issues at home that convinced him to leave the team. That's something that was essentially confirmed by Bruins president Cam Neely on Thursday.
As Neely met with the media via Zoom for the first time since Rask's departure, he said that Rask left the team to deal with "a family emergency."
"I have not spoken to Tuukka the last few days," Neely said. "As [Bruins general manager Don Sweeney] mentioned, he came and spoke to us the morning of Game 3, where he said that he had to go home to deal with a family emergency. So we respected that. Now it's about the guys that are here and the team that we have here. That's what we have to focus on."
Neely's statement seems to back up what was shared by Boston sports radio host Greg Hill earlier in the week. On his WEEI morning show, Hill reported that he'd spoken with Rask via phone and was told that the situation surrounded a medical emergency involving Rask's young daughter.
"I can tell you that he got a phone call in the bubble from his wife, because there was a medical emergency with their daughter -- basically the kind of situation where I believe Tuukka Rask did what every parent would do and was obviously very concerned," said Hill on Wednesday. "It was suggested they seek medical help. Without revealing what that was, because I think I probably should leave that to him -- he did tell me -- as a father of two kids, I would be panicked and alarmed upon hearing that about a young kid.
"Again, without necessarily revealing what he would not want me to reveal, he did speak to his daughter and his daughter did express something to him about where he was and what her situation was, which I think would lead any father, any parent, especially one who feels like that's their most important job, parenting, to want to rush to be with their family at that time...so he made the decision to come home. I think he knew that there was no way while that was going on that he would be the best teammate, be the best goaltender for that team that is in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs."
According to Hill, Rask wouldn't say if he had any intentions of returning to the Bruins later in the postseason. Boston just wrapped up a five-game series victory over the Hurricanes in the first round on Wednesday.