The Bruins announced Friday that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask would be taking a leave of absence for personal reasons, but there hasn’t been much said about the Finn’s whereabouts since.
While the Bruins managed to notch two wins in Rask’s absence — Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Maple Leafs and Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights — the team’s initial one-sentence statement on the matter did little to alleviate rumors and speculation about the goaltender’s situation.
Here’s what we know so far about Rask’s LOA.
Rask wasn’t at Friday’s practice
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney addressed the media after the team’s practice at Warrior Arena Friday morning, where the 31-year-old goaltender was not present, as reported by The Patriot Ledger’s Mike Loftus.
After discussion between #NHLBruins coach Bruce Cassidy, capt. Zdeno Chara and C Patrice Bergeron broke up, practice has started. Tuukka Rask isn't on the ice.
— Mike Loftus (@MLoftus_Ledger) November 9, 2018
“It is not health-related,” Sweeney said on Friday. “I think it’s important for everyone to respect his privacy and allow him to deal with it for the next few days. … We just felt that it was important for us to address that he’ll be away from the team for a few days. If we have an update, accordingly, we certainly will [announce it].”
Sweeney also said that Rask’s leave of absence was expected to be “a few days” as of Friday.
His team is behind him
Rask’s teammates and coaches have been vocal in their support of the goalie’s decision to be away from the team while dealing with a still-unspecified personal matter.
“We support his decision,” team captain Zdeno Chara said in an interview Friday afternoon. “Hopefully it’s going to be solved soon and he’s going to be back with us. … Obviously we miss him. He’s our teammate, he’s our brother, he’s been here for a long time. But, like I said, we all understand and respect his privacy.”
Patrice Bergeron echoed Chara’s statements, telling members of the media that he doesn’t know any details but the Bruins are “behind him and supporting him 100 percent.”
“He’s OK,” reported one of Rask’s longtime pals Saturday, per The Boston Globe.
While his team is supportive and understanding of his decision, head coach Bruce Cassidy insists that it will still be business as usual as the Bruins head into their next few games.
“I’m sure different players that have different friendships will reach out to Tuukka and we’ll go from there,” Cassidy said on Friday. “But you lose some players here and there during the year, and teams are pretty good at getting dialed into business when it’s time to and that’ll be [Saturday].”
Sweeney spoke to the media just 12 hours after Rask relieved goaltender Jaroslav Halak late in the second period of Thursday night’s game. The Bruins fell to the Canucks 8-5, seeing three goals allowed by Rask in just over 25 minutes of play.
“I was just trying to keep it under 10,” Rask said, per The Boston Globe, after the Bruins’ crushing loss to the Canucks.
“It was just one of those games where there wasn’t a whole lot of action on either end — no shots and, you know, all of a sudden it’s 5-3, 8-5, whatever,” Rask said. “So yeah, weird game. But that’s entertainment, and we’re just providing it.”
The Globe‘s Kevin DuPont made a point to analyze Rask’s postgame comments in the wake of his leave of absence, emphasizing that the leave of absence might not have been “granted” at all — it might have been a requirement from management for the goalie, who’s currently ranked 28th in the NHL, to clear his head before being allowed to hit the ice again.
His tentative return is Tuesday
Postgame on Sunday, Cassidy said that he was likely to meet with the $7 million goalie on Monday, the team’s day off.
Cassidy on Rask:
“I suspect Tuukka will join us [on Tuesday]. That is something we will discuss with him tomorrow.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 11, 2018
As of Monday afternoon, it is not yet clear if the two met or spoke ahead of Tuesday’s team practice.