Penguins’ Letang out after suffering stroke

June 19th, 2015 12:30 am

First Posted: 2/7/2014

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will be out for at least six weeks because of a stroke.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero announced Friday that Letang had a stroke last week.

“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.”

Letang will be treated with blood thinners and the stroke is not expected to threaten his career.

“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,” the 26-year-old Letang said. “It obviously was a shock to get the news, but I’m optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice.”

In a press release, the team said that the stroke may possibly have been caused by a hole in Letang’s heart, a defect that most everyone has before birth but in most cases closes up.

Letang’s most recent game was Jan. 27 against Buffalo.

After being a Norris Trophy finalist last season, he has 10 goals — matching a career high — and 18 assists in 34 games this season for the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins.

Letang has 54 goals and 227 points in 419 games since making his NHL debut with the Penguins during the 2006-07 season.

The Montreal native signed a $58 million, eight-year contract extension last summer.

“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.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma addressed media on Friday after the team’s morning skate prior to a game against the New York Rangers.

Bylsma said he was one of the few people in the organization to know the extent of Letang’s situation this week and that most of the players and team employees weren’t fully aware the details until Friday.

“We’ve seen him skate, we’ve seen him walk around. He’s free to exercise,” Bylsma said. “But yeah, we’ve gone through a couple different levels of emotion with getting the news and the continuing tests and the continuing tests about his heart. And you think … about what does it mean? What does it mean for me? Those are serious and sobering questions.”