The Pittsburgh Penguins announced shocking news Friday, star defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke last week and will be out of action for at least six weeks.
Further testing revealed that the 26 year old Letang also has a small hole in the wall of his heart which may have contributed to the stoke. The team stated the condition is treatable with blood thinners and is not considered career threatening. The small defect in the heart wall is present in all individuals before birth, but usually seals shut for most people.
"Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week," Penguins general manager Ray 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. The most important thing right now, of course, is Kris' health, 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."
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 Penguins' blue liner has 18 points in 34 games this season. He was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 2012-13 and helped the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup Championship in 2009. Letang has become one of the premier offensive defenseman in the league with 227 points in 419 NHL games.