Updates from Wednesday, April 9
The Penguins announced Wednesday that Letang would be returning to the lineup:
The Pens' feed has more details on the decision:
#Pens GM Shero: Kris was cleared by doctors & it was his choice on when to return. He's been bugging me for a while to play.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 9, 2014
#Pens Shero: We would have supported Kris in whatever he wanted to do. Health-wise he feels good. This was his decision.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 9, 2014
#Pens Shero: Hockey didn't cause this stroke. He's at no further risk to suffer a stroke playing hockey than going to grocery store.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 9, 2014
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports more on Letang:
Letang flashes a big smile while taking the ice for morning skate.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) April 9, 2014
The Penguins official Twitter feed has more from head coach Dan Bylsma on Letang:
Bylsma on Letang coming back to the #Pens lineup: "Definitely going to have some emotion about seeing him play out there tonight."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 9, 2014
Updates from Monday, Mar. 17
Kris Letang updated his status on Monday as he tries to recover from a stroke (via the Penguins):
Practice mostly over for today, but Beau Bennett and Kris Letang are still on the ice working one-on-one with coach Bylsma overseeing.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 17, 2014
Kris Letang on playing this season: I'm on the ice today bc I want to return. I'll be able to play again. I don't know when #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 17, 2014
Letang on contact: Guys were being careful in the corner. I told them they can go as hard as they can. That's the reason I'm out there #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 17, 2014
NHL.com had video of Letang speaking after practice:
Wes Crosby of NHL.com had more from Letang and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma on his status:
"There's no doubt in my mind [his goal is to return his season]," Letang said. "Even the day I got the stroke, I asked the doctor when I'm going to be able to play again. So there's no doubt about it. If I'm on the ice today, it's because I want to return."
Letang was taken off blood thinners after a test determined it was safe to do so last week. He said his teammates were hesitant to be physical with him Monday, but he urged them to hit him because he wanted the contact.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he didn't think there was any risk of Letang further harming himself during practice. He also said the level Letang practiced at surprised him.
"I'm barely capable of understanding what [the doctors] tell me, let alone trying to make decisions. So I'm not really a part of it," Bylsma said. "To see him back out there … we did a drill and I'm offering resistance and to see Kris Letang coming with that speed, I was like 'Wow, haven't seen that in a lot of cases from our team.'
Updates from Thursday, Feb. 27
Josh Yohe of The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has the latest on Letang:
Letang said there is very good chance he will play again. Still having bad days physically.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) February 27, 2014
The Penguins' official Twitter feed has more of Letang's first statement after suffering the stroke:
Kris Letang: "I have good days and bad days. I'm going day by day to get close to 100 percent. Mentally tough." #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2014
Letang: "Having another battery of tests in 2-3 weeks and then we'll make a decision from there. I'm going day by day." #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2014
Letang: "If I have a chance to come back this year and play that would be great." #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2014
Letang on learning of the stroke: "When I found out I didn't believe it. You think if you'll have a chance to play hockey again." #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2014
Updates from Friday, Feb. 7
According to the Penguins' official website, Letang suffered a stroke:
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manger Ray Shero.
The condition is treatable with blood thinners and at this point is not believed to be career threatening.
Further testing also revealed that Letang, 26, has had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth. This small defect in the wall is present in all individuals before birth but seals shut in most people. It is possible that the hole in the heart led to the stroke.
“Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week,” Shero said. “We held him out of the Los Angeles game Thursday night, and when he continued to feel ill, tests conducted in Phoenix on Saturday gave us the first indication of his condition. Further testing then was conducted when he returned to Pittsburgh, and he continued to undergo a battery of tests here this week.”
The most important thing right now, of course, is Kris’ health,” Shero said. “We’re not thinking about hockey right now. We want to make sure he gets the best possible care and gets better. After six weeks of treatment, doctors will re-evaluate Kris.”
Letang talked about the condition to the Penguins' official site:
I hope that by making my condition public at this time, I can help other people by encouraging them to seek medical help if they experience some of the symptoms associated with a stroke – regardless of their age or general health. It obviously was a shock to get the news but I’m optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice.
Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Letang will make a statement after the Olympic break:
Letang will speak publicly after Olympic break and will start skating on his own then. #Penguins— Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) February 7, 2014
Dan Bylsma addressed the situation on the Penguins' website:
“We’ve had some different conversations with Kris about just his overall health, what he is going through and the last few days have gotten a little bit better grasp on where he is at,” Bylsma said today in Pittsburgh. “They’re not a lot to do with the power play or how he’s bringing the puck up the ice. More over just concern for Kris the person and his health and where he’s at, not even in his career, just where he’s at in a health standpoint.
“And the six weeks, he’s I believe on blood thinners until the six-week mark and then going to be re-evaluated. He’ll be monitored I guess the whole time, but I don’t know if there’s a series of steps. I don’t think there’s a one, two, three that he has to go through during the six-week period of time. He’ll be back here in Pittsburgh at that time and hopefully move on to something different after those six weeks.”
Kris Letang and the Pittsburgh Penguins received some positive news about his illness, according to a report from Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review:
Kris Letang's mystery illness is not believed life threatening, but the Penguins are not sure when he will play again this season, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review.
The team planned to update Letang's condition Friday.
The last time that Letang was on the ice was Jan. 30 in a practice, and there have been recent concerns that his illness could end his career or even threaten his long-term health. The same report notes that the Penguins will not look to move the defender before the trade deadline.
Letang has dealt with a right knee injury and an infected left elbow this season that required a medical procedure, so this is only the latest setback.
Clearly, Letang’s well-being is more important than the immediate future of the Penguins on the ice, but if he could return to the squad after the Olympic break, it would give a boost to what has already been an excellent season for the Metropolitan Division leaders.