Kris Letang will Undergo Neck Surgery, Out 4-6 Months

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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Penguins Defenceman Kris Letang (58) skates during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Arizona Coyotes on December 12, 2016, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins shutout the Coyotes 7-0. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without defenceman Kris Letang for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The defensemen is set to undergo surgery for a herniated disk in his neck, and is expected to miss four-to-six months.

Kris Letang will Undergo Neck Surgery, Out 4-6 Months

For this reason, Letang’s season has been a downhill spiral. He has missed the past 20 games for the Penguins, dating back to February 21st. While only participating in a mere 41 games, he has recorded a respectable 34 points.

Unfortunately, “Kris had been making progress and was hopeful of returning for the playoffs until about a week ago, when the progress plateaued”, according to Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford.

All things considered, Letang has continued to be a driving force on Pittsburgh’s blue line for 11 seasons. With 386 points over 603 career games, his consistency is a valuable part of his game.

Letang is best known for the average amount of ice time that he records each season. This year alone, he has averaged an astounding 25:31, leading the Penguins in average time on ice (ATOI). On February 21, in his final game this season, Letang saw 28:49 of ice time.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Head coach Mike Sullivan made it clear to reporters that Letang’s surgery is “an accumulation of events over time…It wasn’t any one incident.”

On the other hand, the recent news is “hard to swallow…It was not expected” for the Pittsburgh veteran. This won’t be the first time Letang has been sidelined under such unfortunate circumstances. In 2014, he suffered a stroke and missed two and a half months. Letang made his eventual return within the same year. He has also fallen victim to three concussions since 2011.

From here on, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions will be forced to compete without their star defensemen. In retrospect, Kris Letang’s success as a core part of the Penguins organization gives hope for a healthy recovery. He is expected to make a successful return in the future.

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