Kris Letang’s injury ravaged NHL season became more serious on Friday.
General manager Ray Shero, through a news release, announced that the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman suffered a stroke last week and would be sidelined at least six weeks.
While the Penguins aren’t sure when the 26-year-old Letang would play again this season, his latest ailment doesn’t appear to be career threatening as the condition is treatable with blood thinners.
Letang will be re-evaluated after six weeks of treatment.
“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 in a statement.
Further testing determined the Montreal native has had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth that may have led to the stroke.
The small defect in the wall is present in all individuals prior to birth but seals shut for most.
Letang hasn’t taken the ice since Jan. 30 when he practised but didn’t play against the Kings in Los Angeles.
"Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week," 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."
Besides the four games he has missed with this latest health issue, Letang has not played in 19 contests this season because of a strained right knee and infection left elbow, which required a medical procedure in December.
The six-foot, 201-pounder, a Norris Trophy finalist last year as the NHL's top defenceman, has 10 goals and 18 points in 34 games this season.
In seven seasons, Letang has played 419 regular-season contests, recording 54 goals and 227 points.
If Shero is looking to upgrade his blue-line outside the organization prior to the Olympic break, he has until 3 p.m. ET Friday to make a move before the NHL's roster freeze, which runs through 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 23.
"The most important thing right now, of course, is Kris's health," Shero said. "We're not thinking about hockey right now. We want to make sure he gets the best possible care."