In shocking news, Pittsburgh Penguins star defenseman Kris Letang revealed Friday he suffered a stroke last week and will be sidelined for at least the next six weeks. Incredibly, he isn't discounting a return to action this season.
The 26-year-old Letang, a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season, reported feeling dizzy and nauseous last week and testing done by the team led to the diagnosis of the stroke. It also revealed the Montreal native has a small hole in his heart's wall since birth that hasn't healed and could have been the trigger for the stroke. He'll begin taking blood thinners to deal with his condition, which isn't seen as career threatening, and will start skating on his own after the Olympic break ends.
“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,” Letang said in a statement released by the Penguins. “It obviously was a shock to get the news, but I’m optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice.”
Letang is the second Penguins player to be placed on blood thinners this season; 37-year-old backup goalie Tomas Vokoun recently came off the treatment after October surgery to remove a blood clot on his pelvis.
The Penguins were seeking defensive help before Letang's stroke and likely will continue seeking to add a blueliner prior to the March 5 trade deadline. However, Letang's health is foremost in the minds of everyone in the organization, including GM Ray Shero.
“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."