Letang Discusses His Stroke, Recovery and Return
Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 1:10 PM / Features
By Sam Kasan
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang isn’t a typical athlete. He’s young, entering the prime of his playing career at 26 years old. He’s arguably the best-conditioned player on the team. In short, he’s the prototypical specimen of a well-trained athlete.
So when Letang found out that he suffered a stroke, it was shocking news.
“It’s tough to believe. When I found out I didn’t really believe it,” Letang said.
The day was Jan. 29. That morning Letang and his mother were leaving for the airport to fly to Los Angeles as part of the Penguins first-ever Mom’s Trip when the unthinkable happened.
“I woke up and my wife found me on the ground,” Letang said. “The day before I was totally fine. I was practicing. I woke up that morning not expecting that would happen. I drove to the airport with my mom and thought it would clear up, but it never did.”
A few days later doctors diagnosed the stroke.
“I have some good days, bad days. I’m going day by day to get to 100 percent,” Letang said. “It’s not as bad as when it happened. There are symptoms. Some days are stronger symptoms than others.”
Letang is working on returning to the ice for the Penguins. Luckily, because of his age there is a high chance that he will return to complete normalcy. But there is no timetable for Letang’s possible return. For now, he is taking the recovery day-by-day.
“I always want to get back and play games,” he said. “Right now I’d like to step on the ice and play. There are many things that hold me from doing that.
“If I have a chance to come back this year and play it’s going to be great. To be around the team, around the rink, working out, I’m trying to take steps to get closer to coming back.”
Lots more info after the jump!
A few years ago, I hosted two projects to wish Kris well during injury and the holidays (in 2011/2012) – so this will be of the same format and construction! I will put together a book with all the wishes (all the pages will be professional printed) and mail it to Kris through the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
Information regarding the project:
What can I submit?
Traditional art, Digital art, scanned drawings or images, scanned collage, or typed letter or message – anything as long as it meets the theme and criteria of the project. If you have any questions about what can be submitted, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I mail you my card or submission?
Do to the overwhelming response from fans, I cannot accept mail to my personal address. All submissions must be emailed.
What are the criteria?
Must be ‘Get Well’ wish!
Finished size must be standard letter (8.5 x 11″)
File formats: .jpg, .png, Word document or PDF form.
What will happen to my submission?
I will take all the submissions, have them printed professionally and bounded. Then I will personally pack and ship the book to Consol Energy Center.
Submission deadline: March 14, 2014
Email Submissions to: email@example.com
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Direct from the Penguins press release:
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manger Ray Shero.
The condition is treatable with blood thinners and at this point is not believed to be career threatening.
Further testing also revealed that Letang, 26, has had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth. This small defect in the wall is present in all individuals before birth but seals shut in most people. It is possible that the hole in the heart led to the stroke.
“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.”
Dr. Dharmesh Vyas of UPMC was on the road trip as part of his regular duties with the team and has been overseeing Letang’s care. Letang will be re-evaluated after six weeks of treatment by UPMC physicians.
Letang has been cleared to go on vacation with his family during the NHL’s Olympic break.
“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. “It
obviously was a shock to get the news but I’m optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice.”
“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.”
The 6-foot, 201-pound Letang was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman last season.
He has 10 goals and 18 points in 34 games this season. In 419 career games over seven seasons, Letang has 54 goals and 227 points.
He was the Penguins’ third-round draft pick, 62nd overall, in 2005 and played a key role in the team’s Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
Letang will be available to the media when he returns from the Olympic break. He is expected to resume skating on his own at that time.
[ Source ]
“(My mom Christiane) is really excited, obviously,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “Following me around in my childhood, playing in every little rink, now she has a chance to be part of a big trip at the NHL level. So it’s going to be fun for her.”
While more and more teams are starting to do Moms’ Trips instead of Dads’ Trips, this is the first one for all of the players in this locker room. So while they’re not quite sure what to expect, a couple of guys took a stab at how this will differ from the dads’ trips they’re so used to.
“(I think the moms will bring) probably better aroma and more style,” joked defenseman Rob Scuderi. “Those are probably the biggest two.”
Another thing, added Letang with a smile, is “more shopping. I don’t know. We’ll see.” >> continue reading <<
DALLAS, Texas – After back-to-back wins against Montreal and the NY Islanders, the Penguins ran out of gas Saturday night in Dallas.
It was the Stars that were hitting full throttle and dominated the Penguins in a 3-0 victory at American Airlines Center.
“We didn’t execute well,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “They came pretty hard and we didn’t find a way to execute and create chances ourselves. There’s no real excuse for it. We just didn’t do it.”
The Penguins did not look like themselves. They couldn’t find any rhythm or flow, and were losing many of the puck battles. When they did generate some scoring chances they were thwarted by some nice netminding by Kari Lehtonen, who stopped all 24 shots against.
“They outworked us,” forward Tanner Glass said. “A lot of times they were first on pucks. They were more physical on the puck battles. When they’re first and physical it makes it tough to recover pucks.” >> Continue Reading <<
The Penguins were clinging to a 5-4 lead when the Islanders received a glorious opportunity to tie it with 8:16 to play. Letang was called for hooking, giving New York a power play. But then 1:10 later, Tanner Glass tripped John Tavares to give New York a 5-on-3 advantage for 50 seconds and an additional power play following.
Pittsburgh was able to kill off both penalties and escape unscathed. But it was a major moment in the game that the Penguins’ penalty kill unit, which ranks first in the NHL, came through in the clutch against the best players on a talented and dynamic offensive team.
“The last five minutes of the game was a crucial time and we knew what we had to do,” Brandon Sutter said. “Lately we’ve done a good job killing penalties. Getting that in the last few minutes was a confidence booster.”
Brooks Orpik, Craig Adams and Sutter handled the duties over the boards.
“They did a great job out there against five of the most talented guys out there on a 5-on-3,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Those guys did a great job in that regard. We were able to kill both penalties off and preserve the win.”
Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff saved the game with his toe when he made a split-pad save on Frans Nielsen on a cross-crease pass at the side of the net.
“I told the guys I owed them that one after I let that fourth one in, it just snuck through,” Zatkoff said. “I was going to have to make a big save to keep us in it. I was able to get a piece of that. But that’s really all they had. Guys cleared everything out of there. The penalty killers did a great job.” >> Read more
The tremendous displays of patience and vision by Maatta looked like they were coming from a player much older than his 19 years of age.
“I have not seen that from a 19-year-old,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was pretty impressive tonight. You don’t see a 19-year-old defenseman play with this kind of poise and composure.”
“I’ve been working on (the shot fakes),” Maatta said. “It’s something I really want to be on a blueline. It makes it harder to predict what I’m going to do there and block the shots.”
Maatta wasn’t the only Finnish-born player to have a fantastic game, as Jokinen scored the tying goal in addition to his assist.
“He (Jokinen) was feeling it tonight,” Maatta said of his Finnish Olympic teammate. “You know he’s a really dangerous player when he’s feeling it. He’s really good skater and he can see the ice well and make plays.”
The two certainly combined to make it quite a Finnish.
Kris Letang rounded out the scoring for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to extend his league-leading win total to 27. Fleury is now 11-2 in his last 13 starts and 31-3 in his last 34 home decisions. >> Read more >>
From the Pittsburgh Penguins site:
When Joe Vitale walked into the Lexus Club, his baby blue cast was bare. No signatures. No stickers. However, after he walked out of the Lexus Club Tuesday afternoon, it was a different story.
|VIEW PHOTO GALLERY|
Vitale gave the kids attending the Children’s Practice and Luncheon, and sometimes even the older fans, a chance to sign his arm cast. Before he left, he was about 15 signatures strong and grinning through it all.
The Children’s Practice and Luncheon gave the Pittsburgh Penguins the chance to host children and families from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Institute and Children’s Home for a practice and a lunch with the players afterwards.
Diane Mastramico attended with her son Rocco. Rocco and his family were some of the first in the arena and took advantage by claiming seats right on the glass.
“Last week, we came to the hockey game with Mario Lemieux and then we got invited to come today for the practice and the lunch,” Mastramico said. “My son is excited to meet all the players … My son is the hockey fan, we weren’t avid hockey fans, but he really got us interested.”
At the luncheon, players trickled in after showering, but injured players Vitale and Paul Martin were some of the first to show up.
Martin said that the atmosphere of the event gives players a lot to take away from it all.
“I just think the most important thing is when you just connect with a kid,” Martin explained. “You get to spend some time and talk to them, talk about their favorite players. You can tell how much it means to them and that’s what we get out of it. Being able to spend time with them is the most important thing.”
Here are photos from the 2014 Pens & Pins event!
The event was organized and run by the Penguins Wives Association, with all proceeds from the evening – including funds collected from the sale of mystery pucks along with baked goods – being donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia.
Courtney Scuderi, wife of Penguin Rob Scuderi, said the event is one of the ways the Penguins aim to give back to their city.
“We’re part of the Penguins Wives Association and what we try to do is get together and try to give back to the community,” Courtney said. “This event in particular is for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it’s just our way of contributing to Make-A-Wish and reaching out to the neighbors and the fans in Pittsburgh.” — Read More