Kris Letang is out of the Penguins' lineup indefinitely after suffering a stroke in early February, but he's hopeful that he could return this season.
The defenseman met with the media in Pittsburgh for the first time since the stroke and he explained the situation further. He will undergo a battery of tests to help determine if he'll be able to return this season.
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 said that he continues to deal with the effects of the stroke, which might have been caused by a small hole in his heart that was recently discovered. He has good days and some bad days, he said, but is working to get back to 100 percent soon.
He had a few harrowing details of the incident. Letang explained that his wife came home to find him on the floor. Letang said he was conscious but was unable to respond or move.
The entire situation has been hard on him and his family as well.
Letang: "Difficult part was it being hard on my family. Seeing them crying was tough." #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2014
All told, the news wasn't that bad for Letang. He said that he likely won't have surgery to repair the hole in his heart and that doctors believe the odds are good Letang will play again. When, though, is another question. Letang would like it to be this season but there are a lot of hurdles to clear and obviously his health comes first.
One bit of good news is that he has resumed working out, albeit lightly and closely monitored. But baby steps will be needed.
Letang, 26, signed an eight-year, $58 million extension before the season that will begin next season. He was a Norris Trophy finalist in 2013. This season he has 10 goals and eight assists in 34 games, avering 24:13 of ice time per game.
The Penguins would love to get him back this season too considering how important he is to their blue line and the fact that they are already beat up back there but at this point it's probably safest not to expect him back -- especially given he apparently told French media he won't be back this season -- and go with the young guys like Olli Maatta and Simon Despres. If he's able to return then it's a welcome surprise.