The 33-year-old Finnish star, who backstopped the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup and won the Vezina Trophy as top goalie in 2014, said he wants to spend more time with his family.
“I want to be with my team 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 statement.
“I want to thank the Bruins and my teammates for their support and wish them the best.”
He left with the Bruins level 1-1 in a best-of-seven opening round playoff series against Carolina barely two hours before the scheduled puck drop for game three at the NHL’s hub city COVID-19 quarantine bubble in Toronto.
Rask, who led the NHL this season with a 2.12 goals-against average and was second with a 92.9% save percentage, was between the pipes for the first two games of the series.
After a 3-2 Bruins loss in game two, Rask said the atmosphere with no fans made the playoffs seem more like “exhibition games” than a fight for the Stanley Cup.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said there are no health issues involved for Rask or his family and that Rask has the team’s full support.
“We understand completely where Tuukka’s coming from,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think it’s any big surprise to us, to be honest with you. We’re privy to information maybe before the rest of the public is.
“This has been a difficult decision for Tuukka, but the Boston Bruins are in full support of why he made this decision.”
The choice came three weeks after Rask and the Bruins entered the bubble in Toronto, required to restart a 2019-20 campaign shut down by COVID-19 on March 12.
“All of our players, we knew this would be a mental challenge, especially the players with families,” Sweeney said. “In Tuukka’s case, he has a newborn at home, along with two other young girls and he just felt that he needed to be home with them at this particular time.
“Can’t control the timeline of when the playoffs resumed. Give Tuukka a hell of a lot of credit for trying to persevere through this and initiate the process to come up and be with his teammates because first and foremost, that’s what he wants to do.
“But the priorities are in the right order and this is what he has to do at this time.”
Rask, a Vezina Trophy finalist this season, was replaced by Jaroslav Halak in the starting lineup for Boston.
Rask went 1-3 in the bubble, including two losses in seeding round games that saw the Bruins, with the NHL’s best regular-season record, settle for a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.