By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12
I’ve been seeing quite a bit of speculation from Bruins fans lately that goaltender Tuukka Rask is ready to retire at the end of this season. However, I truly do not understand where that’s coming from. Any talk of it that has entered the rumor mill has been squashed by Rask himself, so, with all due respect to anybody who believes it, I’m really confused as to why it’s being talked about.
Rask’s March Remarks Have Since Been Clarified
The first time I really saw chatter about Rask retiring pick up was back in March when Matt Porter of the Boston Globe asked him after his future workload. Rask said, “I have one year left on my contract so we’ll see if I even play.” When asked if that was a real possibility as a follow-up question, he said “We’ll see. Always a possibility.” However, that’s an answer you’ll get from a lot of players if you ask a question like that. Why would they give a definitive answer when you never know what could happen between now and then? What if he got badly injured, or something else happened and he could no longer feasibly play, or if something happened that made him lose his love for the game? There’s a very slim chance of any of those things happening, but you never know.
Rask later clarified his comments and even echoed some of my above sentiments. While appearing The Greg Hill Show on WEEI, Rask was asked about those comments. Here’s the full quote, courtesy of this article by Logan Mullen of NESN.com: “Listen, I remember the interview if you can even call it an interview. This reporter asked me some questions right after practice when I was packing my bag, and all I said was my contract’s up (in 2021) so every option is on the table. I haven’t made any decisions on any direction yet, obviously we’re not even playing hockey right now, so that’ll be in the future. But it’s definitely not in my mind right now, just trying to take care of the family now and go back to hockey whenever that happens and then go from there. I’m sure we’re going to have good conversations with (Don Sweeney) after this season and go from there. But I’m only 34, so it’s not too old, might play another year or two and go from there. But I don’t want to promise anything either way because you never know what’s going to happen.” You can also check out the full interview with Greg Hill here.
Tuukka expanded on this even further back in May, and he said a lot, too much for me to include here, so check out most of his comments here, via Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald. Or, you can watch the video in the embedded tweet above for his full comments. But, at one point, he said “I haven’t thought about retirement at all.” So, he’s made it clear on several occasions now that he’s not planning on retiring anytime soon. But, for some reason, people still choose to believe those comments back in March. He would not have clarified them two times now and said both times he hadn’t even thought about retirement and that he was planning on playing beyond this contract if he at all felt that he may not.
His Leaves of Absence Don’t Prove Anything
I think part of the reason the Rask retirement speculation is ramping back up is that he’s opted out of the playoffs. But, with all due respect, it’s completely unfair of anybody to say that. He left the bubble because one of his daughters had a medical emergency and he wanted to be with her, per Greg Hill of WEEI. You can’t fault him for that because that’s what any good parent would do. It doesn’t matter that he’s a pro athlete; these players are human beings and family comes first for them, as it should. It’s not like he opted out just because he felt like it. He didn’t do it because he doesn’t love the game anymore. He did it in spite of that.
People also bring up his leave back in November of 2018 as an example. But again, it’s not fair of people to use that against him. It was another family-related issue, and he was only gone for three days, after which he went on a tear. That should show people that he only stepped away because he had to, and it was what was best for both him in the team because he was struggling up until that point. Again, these players are human, and they have problems just like everyone else. They aren’t robots who are just here for our entertainment. They don’t owe use anything. We need to stop treating them like they do.
I truly don’t understand how people are taking leaves of absences for family reasons as a sign that he doesn’t love hockey anymore and is ready to retire. Family always comes first, no matter what. If he didn’t truly love the game, he would never have left his family behind to go to the bubble in the first place. He would’ve just stayed home with them. But he went. It’s clear that he still loves the game. There’s no way he retires unless something huge happens and he’s forced to.
Potential Regular-Season Bubbles Likely Wouldn’t Affect Him Playing
Even if they are in bubbles to at least start the regular season, I think he’ll play. He seems to have told GM Don Sweeney that, as Sweeney said in his press conference right after it happened that he’d still be the same great goalie when he came back next year (see the embedded tweet for his full remarks). They know at this point that there’s a decent chance they’ll have to play in bubbles again, so he wouldn’t have given Sweeney any indication that he’s going to play next year if that wasn’t the case. He was willing to leave his family this time until an emergency happened, so I can’t see why it’d be much different.
Another reason I don’t think another bubble situation will be an issue is that I have a feeling the players won’t agree to leave their families again. If they left them behind for the regular season, it’d be for far longer than it has been for the playoffs. Players are already struggling with it being for that long, so I can’t see any scenario in which they’re willing to do it for longer, especially since it’s just the regular season and not the playoffs. I think the NHL is working on a plan to make sure families can come too, or they can at least see them somehow. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t, as any player with a significant other and/or kids is going to push very hard for it. It’s not fair to ask them to leave again. I honestly don’t think they’d be willing to. You’d see a significant number of players opt-out and almost surely from every team, so at that point it wouldn’t really be fair to play.
Barring Exceptional and Unforseen Circumstances, Rask Will Be Back
So, in short, I don’t think Rask will be retiring after this season. There’s really no reason to believe he would. It’s not right to assume that he doesn’t love the game just because he prioritized his family and left the bubble because his daughter had a medical emergency. Outside of that, he’s only 34, has one year left on his deal, and hasn’t said or done anything that should lead people to believe he’s considering it. So I’m really not sure why there’s so much speculation that he will. I’d be shocked to see him retire after next season too. He still loves the game and is still playing it at an elite level, so why would he? It just makes no sense.
Shocked would not be a strong enough word to describe how I’d feel if he did, barring any exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. In fact, I’m pretty confident saying that one of the young goalies will be ready to take over for him by the time that he’s ready to call it quits, and that’s at least a few years down the road. So don’t fret, Bruins fans. We’ll still have our number one goaltender for a while.