It’s happened again–Tuukka Rask has left a game early with an apparent groin injury, except this time it’s during play for the Czech Republic’s HC Skoda Plzen instead of the Boston Bruins due to the NHL lockout.
Rask reportedly left Plzen’s Oct. 23 game against HC Slavia Praha after the first period and warmed the bench for the rest of the game. The severity of his injury isn’t known yet.
However, when he hurt his groin back in March during a game against the New York Islanders, the pain was so bad that he needed help to leave the ice. He missed the rest of the Bruins’ regular season and most of the short playoff run while recovering, though he did appear as the non-playing backup for the last two games of the quarterfinals. In the meantime, with the Bruins’ goalie line of succession harmed because Anton Khudobin was hurt too, the team brought in Marty Turco as a backup.
Injuries to NHL players playing overseas because of a lockout are never a good thing. Probably the worst, most life-threatening case came during the 2004-05 dark times when Patrik Elias was playing in Russia. He’d played just 11 games to date when he suddenly contracted hepatitis A in March 2005, cause unknown. (Rumor has it that it was due to some bad food or drink.) He suffered a high fever, dehydration and compromised immune system and required IV treatment in the intensive care unit. Plus, when the lockout ended, he was still nowhere near healthy enough to get going at training camp.
That concern–that Rask might not be ready for action if the lockout is resolved fairly soon and players are called back to North America from their European bases–is especially heightened, though, for the Bruins. This season is meant to be the one where he proves himself as the starting goalie and potentially earns a new contract from it. If he’s hurt, he may not have a good showing right away.
Rask’s case is probably and hopefully not going to be nearly as bad as Elias’, but it is still worth some concern from Bruins fans too. It may be more difficult to keep up with news about his injury or estimated recovery time this time around due to the language barrier, but I will do my best.
By the way, Slavia Praha ended up winning the game against Plzen 3-2 in a shootout.