Tuukka Rask’s decision to skip NHL All-Star Game anything but ‘selfish’

Matt Kalman
January 13, 2020 - 10:19 pm

He used the word twice, when he didn’t have to use it once.

Tuukka Rask is far from selfish for deciding to skip the NHL All-Star Game to instead spend the time off on the beach with his family, resting up so he can be at his best for his second family: the Bruins.

“I had to be kind of selfish, thinking how much hockey we played last year and short summer and thinking to play until June again,” Rask told the media Monday shortly before the Bruins xxx at the Philadelphia Flyers. “This game falling right basically in the middle of our bye week, so wouldn’t be able to do anything with the family. So just kind of a selfish decision to spend time with the family and go away and get your mind, body kind of rejuvenated and be ready for the last couple busy months of the season.”

Rask, who appeared in the All-Star Game in 2017, joins a list of players that have asked out of the event that’s highlighted by Washington Capitals wing Alex Ovechkin and Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury among others. What the three above-mentioned players all have in common, though, is miles on their treads and ages in the 30s. It’s time for the NHL, which is as demanding as any professional sport in terms of a heavy schedule and a grueling postseason, to make an exception for players over 30 that don’t want to participate in a midseason money grab/sponsor pleaser.

In the past decade the NHL decided to penalize players selected to play in the All-Star Game but instead skip it by suspending them for one game on either side of the break. Luckily the Bruins come out of the break with a back-to-back at Winnipeg and Minnesota, so Rask wasn’t going to play both games anyway. Instead he gets another day’s rest. The NHL should not be suspending players anyway.

After Monday’s game in Philly, Rask has played 27 games to Jaroslav Halak’s 20. Depending on how tight the battle for playoff positioning gets, Rask might have to play an even greater number of games during the stretch run. So where should Rask’s priorities be? With the NHL and an All-Star Game that’s actually a 3-on-3 tournament, which requires a lot more exertion that should ever be asked of an athlete in an exhibition environment? (Not to mention, who wants to visit St. Louis in January?) Or should Rask think more about his health and well-being and the Bruins’ chances to play a couple extra months for a second straight year?

We all know the answer, and in the ultimate team sport Rask’s decision shows that understands what’s important. The NHL, not so much. But since they don’t impose stricter penalties on goalies, the Bruins will come out of the All-Star break unscathed and ready for a long run.

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