A season which as seen the Penguins deal with all sorts of injuries and illnesses took another turn today when it was revealed all-star defenseman Kris Letang (right) has been diagnosed with a stroke.
Letang, 26, has missed the team's past four games because of the stroke. He will go on blood thinners to treat the stroke and will be out of the lineup at least six weeks. His condition is not believed to be career-threatening.
After Letang felt dizziness and nausea Jan. 29, testing revealed a small hole in the wall of his heart. He has been given clearance to workout during the NHL's upcoming Olympic break.
Along with this stroke, Letang has dealt with knee and elbow injuries which have limited him to 34 games and 18 points (10 goals, eight assists).
This has been the second scare the team has seen this season due to a medical condition not typically related to hockey. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been sidelined since the preseason due to a blood clot.
-EN Says: First things first, the fact that Letang is in relatively good health despite this is obviously great news. The word "stroke" is hardly anything you normally associate with professional athletes, especially ones in their mid 20s.
Letang has been seen walking around the team's facilities at Consol Energy Center in street clothes and has been seen on television watching the games in the press box.
We're hesitant to make a direct connection given our lack of medical knowledge, but Letang's condition sounds similar to what Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi dealt with in 2005. Bruschi, then 31, returned from his ailment and played in the NFL for four more seasons.
If there's a "good" side to this, it's the timing. This has happened on the eve of the Olympic break and will allow Letang time to recover while the league is shutdown.
The team has gone 23-5-0 in games in which Letang has been sidelined this season. His presence in the lineup will be missed but the team has managed to succeed without him this season thanks in part to the emergence of rookie defenseman Olli Maatta and the improved play of steady veteran Matt Niskanen.
We're not even sure how this might impact how the Penguins approach the trade deadline. Combined with a potential return of Beau Bennett (wrist) and Vokoun, this situation with Letang adds another layer to what was already a tricky situation to figure out with regards to the Penguins' potential moves near the trade deadline.
(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)