The Danny Picard Show

This week, Danny reacted to Tuukka Rask opting out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

I’ll be honest. It took me a few games to get into playoff mode.

After watching the Bruins’ first three games in the Toronto bubble — the “Stanley Cup Qualifiers” — I was bored. It wasn’t just because the Bruins lost all three of those games. There was something missing.

That “something” was obvious. There were no fans. And it was weird.

Then the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs began last week. Even after the first two games against the Carolina Hurricanes, I was still having a tough time getting into it. It did not feel like playoff hockey.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask agreed.

“Well, to be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask after the Bruins’ Game 2 loss to the Hurricanes last Thursday. “There’s no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game. Obviously there’s some scrums after whistles, and, I haven’t noticed anything that [opponents] would be targeting me or whatnot. Things happen, people fall on you and whatnot, but it’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there.”

To be fair, there should be some context added to Rask’s answer in the postgame press conference. So you should know what the question was.

“Tuukka, obviously playoff hockey is playoff hockey,” said a reporter. “I’m wondering if Carolina is doing anything to cross the line when they enter your crease?”

Rask didn’t just answer the question about Carolina “crossing the line.” He also felt the need to correct the reporter’s suggestion that “playoff hockey is playoff hockey.” In Rask’s mind, that wasn’t so obvious. Not right now. Not after four months off. Not during a pandemic. Not in August. Not in Toronto. And certainly not in an empty arena.

For whatever reason, some fans and media couldn’t understand Rask’s reasoning. We’ve been so desperate for sports to resume, that to us outside the bubble, we’re just happy that sports are back. We’re happy we get to watch a delayed version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We get to sit back, turn on the TV, watch hockey all day and all night like it’s the Olympics. Some of us even get to gamble on it — that is, if you’re watching outside of Massachusetts (wink emoji) because the state still hasn’t legalized sports gambling, which is so ridiculously stupid I don’t even know where to begin.

Regardless, hockey is back. They playoffs are on. And most fans and media seem to be into it.

Me? Ok, fine. I’m into it now. But it took me until Game 4.

So do I blame Rask for telling the truth? Not at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s not alone in feeling that way. He’s just the only one to come out and say it.

But then, after those comments, he decided to get up and leave. Rask opted out to go be with his family, and the announcement was made just hours before Game 3 on Saturday.

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

It has since been rumored to be a “family emergency.” But it’s also since been rumored that everything is now fine with that family emergency.

First off, it’s good to hear that everyone in his family is doing good. But the last thing anyone wants to then hear is that Rask was seen golfing a few days later.

Again, we need to add context to all of this. And the context is, perhaps Rask needed a day to take his mind off everything, so he went golfing. But man, if I’m one of his teammates, I’m not so sure how I feel about that.

The Bruins are trying to win a Stanley Cup. Rask is one of the best goalies in the NHL. He gives them their best chance to win. And a few days after opting out, he’s back home on the golf course? Not really a good look. And I’m usually a hardcore Rask supporter.

Rask is under contract for one more year at a $7 million cap hit. But I’m willing to bet that a team not named the Bruins is paying that next season.

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