Boston Bruins

May 14, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) celebrates with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) after their game against the Carolina Hurricanes in game three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Bruins won 2-1 and lead the series 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

Fans weren’t the only ones blindsided by the Tuukka Rask news on Saturday morning.

In fact, Rask’s Bruins teammates were informed of the 33-year-old’s decision to opt out of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and return to Boston just before their bus departed for Scotiabank Arena. But their focus wasn’t on the loss of the man that’s started the team’s last 78 real playoff games. (Don’t count those round-robin games as playoff games. That’s nonsense.) It was instead on Rask’s family.

“Our first concern is the health and safety of his family,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, Rask’s teammate for over a decade, said after Game 3. “That’s the most important thing we were all kind of thinking about and obviously we support Tuukka’s decision.

“There is nothing more important than your family. You know at this point we want to make sure that everybody else respects his privacy and you know I think we all just want to wish his family the best and that’s it.”

It was a sentiment echoed throughout the Boston locker room.

“We’re supporting him, we’re behind him, and we understand,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Family comes first. We’ve always said that. Obviously, we’re a tight group in this locker room. We’ve been together for a while and supporting each other. Obviously, we’re thinking about him and we’re supporting that decision.”

“We all want Tuukks here, but we all want what’s best for his family and we obviously respect his decision,” Charlie Coyle, who factored in on both of Boston’s goals on Petr Mrazek, said. “Tuukks is such a huge part of this team. He is. We all know that. He has been for a long time. But we respect it. That’s how it is. That’s what’s done.”

These comments speak to a locker room that knew something was off when it came to Rask’s bubble-city run. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney alluded to this when throwing his support behind Rask before Saturday’s game, saying that Rask deserved “a hell of a lot of credit” for attempting to give it through these issues.

But it’s left the Bruins with the decision to step up for a struggling member of their hockey family.

“We are here as one family,” Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 29-of-30 shots for the win on Saturday, said. “There are obviously more important things than hockey in life. He’s going to be at home, so I support his decision and I just want to step in and help the guys. I think they will do the same for me. He’s my teammate and a great guy. I just support any decision he makes. We are here as one team and as one family and we understand what’s going on.”

“Now we have to focus on hockey.”

While Rask takes the time needed to focus on his family.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.