Penguins’ Sullivan says Letang ‘making progress’ after suffering stroke

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said Kris Letang has been skating and working out again after the star defenceman suffered a stroke earlier this week.

Although there is still no timetable for when the Penguins expect Letang to return, the team said Wednesday his “condition is not believed to be career-threatening.”

Sullivan provided an update to reporters Saturday and said Letang’s spirits are “really good.”

“He’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “He looks really good. He skated yesterday. A lot of that, it’s still not in the form of structured hockey skates, but he’s just getting out on the ice, he’s working out a little bit.

“He’s such a fitness freak, and that’s just part of his DNA. That’s his comfort zone. Our doctors are monitoring him very closely. Everything that he’s doing at this point, he gets approval from our medical team.”

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Letang missed two months in 2014 when he suffered his first stroke. At the time, the Penguins said it was discovered that he has a small hole in his heart.

The 35-year-old was initially ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes due to an undisclosed illness until the team revealed the full nature of Letang’s absence the following day.

“I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a statement. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. It is important for me that my teammates, family and the fans know that I am okay. I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

Letang has spent his entire 17-year NHL career with the Penguins, who drafted him in the third round, 62nd overall, in 2005. He has 145 goals and 517 assists for 662 points in 962 games and has won the Stanley Cup three times with Pittsburgh in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

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