Bruins' goalie Rask opts out of season, says needs to be with family

FILE PHOTO: Jan 7, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opted out of the National Hockey League (NHL) season on Saturday, saying he needed to be with his family.

The announcement came hours before Game 3 of the Bruins’ Eastern Conference first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto, one of two Canadian “hub cities” where the NHL is completing the remainder of its coronavirus-delayed season.

“I want to be with my team mates 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 written statement posted to the Bruins’ Twitter page.

“I want to thank the Bruins and my team mates for their support and wish them success.”

The 33-year-old Finnish goalie, a member of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup-winning squad, made 23 stops during the Bruins 3-2 loss against the Hurricanes on Thursday.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the team fully supported Rask’s decision.

“We understand completely,” said Sweeney. “I don’t think it’s any big surprise to us, to be honest with you. We were privy to information maybe before the rest of the public is and this has been a difficult decision for Tuukka.”

NHL teams assembled in Toronto and Edmonton earlier this month to finish the season, with players living in a quarantined setting walled off from the general public for two months.

The best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals are scheduled to begin on Sept. 20.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Clare Fallon