Defenceman Kris Letang has been out of the Pittsburgh Penguins for a little over a week with an undisclosed illness. It’s just the latest setback in a season already plagued by upper-body and lower-body injuries, causing him to miss 23 games already this season.
Late Thursday, the story took a scary turn as Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said Letang’s illness was “probably not life-threatening.”
It’s one thing to not feel very good, but when the term “life-threatening” comes into play, regardless of the situational context, the story immediately goes beyond hockey, instead focusing on the player’s well-being above all else.
The timing couldn’t be much worse for Letang, whose new eight-year, $58 million contract is set to kick in on July 1. With that said, financial considerations should be the absolute furthest thing from his mind.
According to the Tribune-Review article and Rossi’s sources, there were early concerns that Letang’s illness may actually have posed a threat to his career. Though such concerns have apparently subsided over the last few days, Letang is still listed as being out indefinitely, with Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma not divulging any further details until the team knows more.
The 26-year-old defenceman from Montreal has 10 goals and eight assists in 34 games this season. Though the Penguins have far and away the NHL’s best powerplay at 24.9 per cent, they surely miss Letang’s offensive presence on the back end, with six of his goals coming with the man advantage.
It would be foolish to speculate on what illness currently ails Letang, a Norris Trophy finalist from last season who hasn’t played since Jan. 27 against the Buffalo Sabres.
However, the Penguins plan to update Letang’s condition on Friday, when more details will hopefully emerge on what really is a scary situation.
Too Many Men on the Site will have the latest information on this story as it happens.