The big news in the NHL world right now is that Tuukka Rask has decided to opt out of the season. As a Bruins fan, I figured I’d offer up my 2 cents on the whole thing with a quick little rant in between periods
First of all, I’ve been a huge Rask defender over the years, which just makes this situation that much weirder for me. I’ve always thought that he was the target of a lot of misguided hate from Boston sports media and Bruins fans, most of which isn’t even true. For example, people love to simply say that he sucks, despite him statistically being one of the best goalies in the entire league for the last 8 or so years, winning the Vezina Trophy for the 2013-14 season, and having a .934 save percentage in the playoffs last year. If Tuukka played nearly as bad as people pretend that he does, The Bruins would have been golfing every spring instead of making playoff runs. He’s a good goalie, and anybody that says he isn’t is delusional.
All of that being said, this particular decision by Rask is tough to defend.
I’m not gonna go the route a lot of people on Twitter are taking and shit on him for wanting to go be with his family, because I can understand that. We’re living in weird times and doing unprecedented things to accommodate sports during said times. Being in the bubble and away from his wife and kids–including a daughter born a few months ago–probably sucks, so I get it.
My problem with his decision to opt out is the timing. Plain and simple. If he was going to opt out of the season, he should have opted out before the bubble started. This would have given The Bruins plenty of time to prepare for his absence, and it would have also eased some of the blowback he is getting from this unexpected decision. Instead, he decided to opt out during a tied playoff series where The Bruins look like they need all of the help they can get.
Simply put, that is what pisses me off about his sudden decision to opt out right now. If you start something you are supposed to finish it, and it feels like he’s quitting on the rest of the team during the playoffs and while they are in the hunt for another return to The Stanley Cup Final. Feel however you want about his supposed reasons for leaving, but opting out mid-series is not what leaders are supposed to do. If Rask was going to bail on the team, he should have done it before play resumed because now he just seems like a quitter.
The effects that Tuukka opting out will have on the rest of the team could go either way. It could either completely kill their morale and make them give up too, or it could be used as a motivator to play even harder. We’ll have to wait and see, but thankfully so far it seems to be the latter. Halak has always been a solid backup, so let’s hope The Bruins can continue to rally around him and make another solid run for The Stanley Cup.