Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has broken his silence and made it clear he doesn’t want to play for anyone else except the Bruins.
It’s been almost two months since Rask abruptly left the NHL bubble in Toronto to attend to a family emergency just hours before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Carolina Hurricanes. Since then, Tuukka Rask has once again come under fire from media and fan scrutiny and in the last two weeks has been the subject of numerous trade rumors that will only intensify when his limited no-trade clause expires on Friday.
As the embattled Vezina Trophy finalist told Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald Thursday though, he’s not worried about the rumors and as far as he’s concerned, whenever the NHL starts up again, he’ll be between the pipes for the only NHL team he’s ever played for.
“I think Sweeney came out and said that’s not going to happen,” Tuukka Rask said Thursday. “I don’t want to play for anybody else but the Bruins. I don’t see any reason for that. I’ve been here for a long time and the organization’s been so great for me. We’ve built our home in Boston and we call this home. So, yeah, I don’t want to play for anybody else. I think where my head’s at is focusing on next year and then hopefully a couple of more years after that and then pass the torch for the next guy after that. I want to help the organization as much as I can.”
Rask also isn’t worried about the fact that he, his agent and Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney haven’t begun negotiations on a new contract extension. Rask is entering the final season of an eight-year contract that carried an annual $7 million salary cap hit.
“They have so much on their plate right now with the draft and everything, we’re just trying to get the next season going and get back to somewhat normal and then we can talk extension later,” Rask said. “I still have one more year left. There’s no rush. But like I said, I don’t want to go anywhere else. I want to finish my career here.”
Rask then confirmed what was reported here back on August 17, telling Conroy he did indeed leave because his baby daughter had a medical emergency and as any father would do, he raced home to be with her, his wife, and his family. Rask, who usually does a great job of blocking out the noise from media, fans, and any other critics, did acknowledge that he was bothered by the firestorm of accusations he found himself in after making what seems like an easy decision for any father.
“I got a phone call from my wife and my daughter was in a state that she needed medical attention and she wasn’t doing well,” Rask recounted. “At that point, I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that,” said Rask. “If you get a phone call wherever you are like I did, it’s a pretty easy decision. What bothered me a little bit was people thinking that I just left because I didn’t like it there. I’m not going to lie to you, (the bubble) was awful. But if I didn’t have a reason to leave, I wouldn’t have left, obviously. There’s that. But my daughter’s fine now, the family”s good, and it made me feel good. When I got home, they were happy to have me home and things got back to normal pretty quickly, so I knew that I made the right decision. It had nothing to do with hockey or the bubble. It was just the fact that I had to make that decision and I stand by it.”
The 33-year-old netminder who went 26-8-6 with a 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage to finish second in Vezina Trophy voting appreciates all the support he’s received but again, can’t understand how any parent wouldn’t relate to his decision.
“Everybody who has talked to me has been very supportive,” said Tuukka Rask. “We’re professional athletes, but we also have families and we’re normal guys. It’s such a special time in the world for anybody right now that I don’t think you need to be judged as you normally would be. It doesn’t matter, because I know that I made the right decision and I know my family is well right now, and that’s all that matters.
And any dad or any mother gets the same phone call I did, if they wouldn’t make the same decision I made, then they’d probably have to live with that consequence. I wouldn’t want to do that. I’d rather get the chirps or whatnot, but my family knows I made the right decision and that’s all the matters to me.”