The good news for Kris Letang is that he's OK. Doctors have given him permission to take part in light workouts, though he has to stay away from weight lifting still. They say he will be able to return to his hockey career at some point, even if it isn't this year. For now, doctors don't believe it is necessary to operate on his heart, which has a hole in it.
But the stroke he sustained that was revealed earlier this month is still an incredibly scary situation to be in. On Thursday, he talked to the media for the first time about the details surrounding his health scare and revealed such unnerving details as the fact his wife found him lying on the floor of their bedroom the morning of Jan. 29. Later that day, he was on a plane flying to Los Angeles.
From Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“I was not able to function,” he said.
Letang's mother-in-law is a nurse and was at their home at the time of his stroke, which stopped him from calling 911. He felt better enough later in the day to fly with the Penguins to Los Angeles.
But after a series of tests, it was determined that Letang had a stroke. He said he is still having “good days and bad days” and is still dealing with fatigue.
Letang looked noticeably thinner than normal. He has recently been given permission to work out though he isn't skating and continues to take blood thinner medication.
Telling his family that he had a stroke was the hardest part, Letang said.
“My family is still worried,” he said. “That was the difficult part, when you see your mom crying, and your wife (crying).”
It's a very complicated situation and a very rare one for a 26-heart-old, peak-form athlete to find himself in. It's scary for all sorts of reasons. It's scary because it happened to a guy like Letang, it's scary that it came out of the blue and it's scary because he had a stroke. To get an idea of just exactly what that means, Jo Innes did an excellent explanation for The Score earlier in February.
Naturally, news like this has rattled other members of the Penguins dressing room who could just have easily found themselves in this extremely rare position. Matt Niskanen, who sits next to Letang in the dressing room, said to The Hockey News in our most recent magazine issue: "I mean, he's my age. It's hard to believe. I'm shocked, but I'm happy that he's OK."
Letang is holding out hope he can return to the ice by the spring for the Penguins as they make another charge at a Stanley Cup. Of course he does - Letang is a proud and hungry hockey player. But this recovery will be dealt with very slowly and very carefully, as it should. And, more likely than not, he will not return until at lest next season.
“Not such a good season for me,” Letang told the media. “Not very lucky. Honestly, if I have the chance to come back this year, it's going to be great.”
But as much as we all want to see him recover and return to the ice, none of us wants to see him return before the time is right. The Hockey News and indeed the entire hockey world wishes all the best to Letang on his road back to full health, and the NHL.