The Boston Bruins will be without Tuukka Rask for at least the next couple of days, as the team announced Friday that the netminder will be taking a leave of absence to attend to a personal matter.
While Don Sweeney noted that there is no set timetable for Rask to return to the club, he did emphasize that the personal matter is not related to Rask's health.
"Being upfront, Tuukka is going to take a few days to allow him to address a personal matter," Sweeney said following the team's morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. "It is not health related, so I think it's important for everyone to respect his privacy and allow him to deal with it for the next few days."
While Sweeney did not delve too deep into "internal, private matters," he did add that the club chose to make the decision today regarding Rask — who is 4-4-0 on the season over eight games.
Rask was not on the ice for Friday's practice, with Sweeney noting that the Bruins will call up either Dan Vladar or Zane McIntyre from Providence following the AHL club's matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins later tonight.
With Boston set for two games in two days this weekend, Bruce Cassidy confirmed that Jaroslav Halak will get the start on Saturday against Toronto and will more than likely get the call again on Sunday against Vegas.
As Rask takes a break from the team for at least the next couple of days, both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara — his teammates with the Black and Gold for over a decade — pledged their full support for their goalie.
"Obviously, I'm not going to go into any details, because I don't know, just like you guys," Bergeron said. "It's a personal issue and right here, we're behind him and supporting him. That's all I can. He's a great friend and we're all here for him."
"We respect that," Chara added. "It's obviously very important that we support his decision and hopefully it's going to be solved soon and he's going to be back with us. ... Obviously, we miss him. He's our teammate, he's our brother. He's been here for a long time. But, like I said, we all understand and want to respect his privacy. In his absence, we support him and we think of him. ... We're looking forward to having him back."
Even with Friday's news, the Bruins don't have much time to dwell on Rask's absence, as a tough test awaits them on Saturday against a high-powered Maple Leafs squad that holds a two-point edge over the B's in the Atlantic Division.
"I think tomorrow, we'll be focused on the Maple Leafs, business as usual," Cassidy said. "That will be the focus of the staff and the players. I'm sure different players with different friendships will reach out to Tuukka and we'll go from there with that. We lose some players here and there during the year and teams are pretty good at getting dialed into business when it's time to and that will be tomorrow."