The biggest names in the National Hockey League will take center stage in St. Louis for All-Star weekend on Jan. 24-25. One of the game’s premier goaltenders opted to use his weekend differently.
Tuukka Rask earned the honors as the leading vote-getter among goalies to represent the Atlantic Division — captained by David Pastrnak — for the skills competition (Jan. 24) and the 3-on-3 tournament (Jan. 25). But the winningest goalie in Bruins’ franchise history opted to skip the festivities and will instead take that weekend off.
The Bruins will have 10 days off after hosting the Vegas Golden Knights a week from this Tuesday. The All-Star game falls in the middle of their extended break.
Rask opted to take the extended time off to rest, recover and spend some vacation time with his family. Who can blame him? After all, the Bruins had a short off-season following their bitter Game 7 loss to the Blues just seven months ago.
? Tuukka Rask addresses the media in Philadelphia regarding his decision not to attend the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend: pic.twitter.com/lHAsjXVm2X
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 13, 2020
“I was thinking about it a lot when I saw the scheduling and there was a possibility of me going,” Rask told reporters in Philadelphia before Boston’s matchup with the Flyers on Monday. “First of all, it’s a great honor to be chosen, obviously. These decisions are tough, but for me, I had to be kind of selfish, thinking of how much hockey we played last year, the short summer and thinking of playing until June again.
“This game is falling right in the middle of our bye week. I wouldn’t be able to do anything with the family. It was kind of a selfish decision to spend time with the family, go away, get your mind and body rejuvenated and be ready for the last couple of busy months of the season.”
Selfish for the right reasons, yet Rask’s act comes with a caveat.
The Finn will have to serve a one-game suspension per the NHL rulebook. He’s hardly the first player to forego the event as he joins the likes of Alex Ovechkin who opted for extended rest over partaking in a fun, yet watered-down All-Star game.
“It’s everybody’s personal choice, I guess. Nobody really wants to make the league look bad or anything like that,” Rask said to the assembled press at Wells Fargo Center. “Sometimes you have to be selfish and make these decisions, thinking of your family and the second part of the season.”
The Bruins return from their bye week on Jan. 31 to kick off a slate of back-to-back matchups in Winnipeg and Minnesota. Rask will likely serve his one-game ban during this stretch.
Bruce Cassidy, goalie coach Bob Esenssa, and the rest of Boston’s coaching staff have another capable option between the pipes in Jaroslav Halak to start one of those back-to-back nights. All this does is delay Rask’s next start by a night at worst, as the Bruins will continue to ride their dynamic goaltending tandem coming out of the break.
The Bruins supported Rask in his admittedly selfish decision.
“They were fine with it,” Rask added. “I gave them a heads-up. I talked to Goalie Bob [Essensa] even way before the break that if there was a possibility I’m going, it might be more beneficial for me to sit somewhere else and take the break. They were supportive…very supportive.”