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Kris Letang says it's his call when he returns, is 'back to normal'

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Kris Letang has been out since a stroke on Jan. 29. (Getty Images)
Kris Letang has been out since a stroke on Jan. 29. (Getty Images)

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There's only one person who can tell Kris Letang when he's going to return to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins: Kris Letang.

The Penguins' star defenseman has been out of the lineup since suffering a stroke in late January. After that it was discovered that Letang had a small hole in his heart, though it was unclear if there was a connection between the two issues. It put Letang's season in serious jeopardy, most believed his campaign was done.

That included Letang. However not long ago he resumed skating with the Penguins and now the limitations are off. When Letang returns is entirely up to him. From Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

"It's going to be my call," he said. "It's all about when I feel ready."

Letang, 26, said he will "still have to meet with the doctors" -- as a precautionary checkup -- before entering game action but said he will play when he feels comfortable.

Although Letang has been skating hard in daily practices with the team, he said he is not sure when he would return.

It's good to see Letang being cautious because often times turning over that decision to professional athletes is a dangerous matter; they'll almost always sayd they're good to go. They just want to compete and join the team.

That desire must only be exacerbated by the Penguins' struggles of late as the playoffs near. Still, he's being cautious. He told Yohe that he's feeling good on the ice and that he's back to normal. You'll recall he was cleared to practice in full last week. The question is when will he be back in full with the Penguins?

They could certainly use a fully healthy Letang. He logs heavy minutes and with how beat up they are on defense, that would be a welcome addition. Not to mention he's an elite puck-mover even if he only has 10 goals and eight assists in 34 games this season.

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