As the Pittsburgh Penguins were preparing to take on the Boston Bruins at today’s Winter Classic there was a notable absence. Kris Letang did not skate with the group yesterday in the televised practice, and will not play this evening. Head coach Mike Sullivan explained that Letang has traveled back home to be with his family after his father passed away recently.
Letang, 35, is also dealing with a lower-body injury and has had quite a tumultuous season. He suffered a stroke (the second of his career) and was back on the ice just a few days later. Not quite playing to his standards, he has just 16 points in 29 games so far this season.
Still, he is the team’s most important defender, and losing him for any length of time will have a serious effect on the Penguins’ back end. Hopefully, he will be able to return relatively soon, though the team won’t rush him back. On behalf of the team, Sullivan told reporters that he wants to “express our sincere and deepest sympathy for him during this time.”
Mark Friedman and Ty Smith were both in the lineup at practice yesterday, skating with Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Brian Dumoulin respectively. Smith was also running the first powerplay unit, according to Seth Rorabaugh of the Tribune-Review.
Condolences to Kris and his family on the loss of his father.
KL is not having the best of times lately. Prayers and best wishes for better times ahead.