Last week, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask raised some eyebrows when he said his team’s return to action in the bubble was “dull at times” and “doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there.” Turns out things didn’t get any more interesting as the Bruins announced Saturday that Rask was opting out of the rest of the team’s run inside the bubble.

“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,” Rask said in a team statement. “I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them success.”

The Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes are currently tied 1-1 in the first round of the NHL Playoffs as part of the league’s “Return to Play.” Rask started both previous games for the Bruins but Jaroslav Halak for the start in Saturday’s Game 3, which the Bruins won 3-1.

The franchise said it stands behind Rask and his decision to leave the bubble.

“We understand completely where Tuukka is coming from,” general manager Don Sweeney said in a zoom call with reporters. “The Boston Bruins are in full support of why he made this decision.” Sweeney also made it clear that this will not affect Rask’s future which the team. Rask has one year remaining on his contract with the Bruins.

Following the Bruins’ loss in Game 2 of the series, Rask told reporters that he didn’t really feel like the return was exciting or even close to normal game experiences with fans, intimating that he didn’t quite see the value in it, especially with two small children at home.

“To be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there. There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game,” he told reporters. “It’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there. You try and play as hard as you can. When you’re playing at a home rink and an away rink and the fans are cheering for and against you, it really creates a buzz for the series.”

“There’s none of that. So, it just feels like dull at times. There are moments when there are scrums and whatnot, and then there will be five minutes when it’s coast-to-coast hockey. There’s no atmosphere. So it feels like an exhibition game.”

Given that Rask left the bubble after the series started and we’re talking about a Boston-based sports team, there were some strong reactions to his decision. NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury was critical of the decision, saying that he didn’t agree with Rask’s decision to put his family ahead of the team.

“Nobody’s simply opted to leave the bubble just because they didn’t want to be here and they needed to be with their family. I wouldn’t have done it, the rest of the league’s players have not done it.”

Rask started four games for the Bruins before leaving the bubble, sporting a 1-3-0 record with a .904 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average.

[TSN]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Curbed, Neighborhoods.com, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.