(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

Speculation and rumors have flooded the internet this offseason around Tuukka Rask, but Rask has now broken his silence and clarified the situation, which caused him to leave Toronto early. During his first media availability since his departure, Rask told Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, “I don’t want to play for anybody else but the Bruins.” This provided a sense of clarity we haven’t heard from Rask in some time.

Rask, while golfing in ex-Bruin Shawn Thorton’s charity golf tournament, Putts, and Punches, was asked about the situation that led him to leave the bubble in Toronto.

“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. At that point, I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that,” Rask continued “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.”

After hearing Rask speak out, there is certainly no one who can blame him for going home and doing the right thing. That being said, some fans believe if Rask had provided the transparency earlier, he would have faced far less criticism.

While a professional athlete certainly agrees to put themselves in a more public eye, this should be the end to all criticism regarding leaving the bubble.

Rask Wants To Stay

Rask made it very clear he wanted to stay with the Boston Bruins and had no desire to join another organization. During his interview with Conroy, he addressed the rumors many of us have been hearing about a potential trade. Rask clarified for Conroy, “I think Sweeney came out and said that’s not going to happen.” When asked about the possibility of signing an extension, Rask commented, “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,” This should be reassuring to Bruin’s fans who potentially saw this as Rask’s last year. It sounds like he is headed for a contract extension, assuming the Bruins offer him one.

What’s Next For Rask

Rask indicated today that he’d like to help the Bruins franchise prepare for the future. “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 heads 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.” This is the type of comment you want to hear from Rask, and frankly, it has been too long since we’ve heard something like this.

It’s all up to Rask now to prove to the fanbase and, more importantly, to the organization that he still has gas left in the tank. The Vezina finalist is coming off another solid year in the crease and still provides a tremendous upside to the organization. While fans might have had mixed reactions to Rask’s decision to leave Toronto early, it’s never been more clear than it is now that Rask is still the man for the job. I’ll certainly be cheering him when the puck drops in January.