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No More Tukka Time?


Plenty of Boston sports athletes of our time - Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Paul Pierce are among them - have reputations as clutch postseason performers.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is not one of them.

And he only cemented his legacy further early Saturday morning by announcing he his opting out of the NHL's return to play.

What's surprising and shocking is that Rask's announcement came roughly an hour and a half before the Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes were to play Game 3 of their first-round series in Toronto.

"I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family," Rasks's statement read.

Look, in the midst of COVID-19, it's not surprising to see athletes opt out and think of their families. We don't know exactly why Rask is leaving the bubble in Toronto.

But in the middle of a playoff series? With a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup?

I'm sorry, but that's weak.

If you're going to leave, announce it before the bubble. Period.

Again, we don't know Rask's situation. But abandoning your team before a crucial Game 3 is inexcusable. Especially in a market that expects greatness and championships.

Rask has been a great goaltender. But when it comes to clutch moments, Rask has a Drew Bledsoe-esque penchant for not coming through.

There was Game 6 of the 2013 final against Chicago in which Rask let in two goals in less than a minute, and the Blackhawks were subsequently celebrating on Causeway Street. Same deal in Game 7 against St. Louis last spring. Rask was also inconsistent against ancient rival Montreal, in particular in a 2014 second-round playoff exit after a regular season in which the Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy (best record in the NHL).

Now, it's up to Jaroslav Halak, a very talented backup who once played with the Lewiston Mainiacs. He's capable of leading the Bruins to a championship.

And it's clear that Rask has played his last game with a Spoked B on his sweater. His contract is up at the end of next season, so maybe the Bruins should deal him and see what they can get for him.

Ohh, and the B's have some guy named Jeremy Swayman in their farm system. He's the guy who was the best goaltender in college hockey last year and made an otherwise-mediocre UMaine team into a championship contender. If Tuukka is sent out of Boston, Swayman's path to TD Garden just picked up a bit more steam, although he probably needs at least a year in the AHL to adjust to the pro game.

While Rask is thinking of his family, abandoning his hockey family shortly before a game just looks bad. The organization and his teammates will say all the right things to reporters, but it's just not a good look. Pandemic or no pandemic.

It would be ironic if Rask was traded to Buffalo in the offseason

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