ShareThis Page

Penguins' Kris Letang cleared to rejoin team for training camp

Jonathan Bombulie
| Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 12:42 p.m.

If Kris Letang is supposed to be a less-impactful player after the neck surgery he had April 13 than he was before it, somebody better tell the 30-year-old defenseman.

Speaking at the team's annual preseason golf tournament Tuesday, Letang said he was cleared for contact and expects to be a full participant in practice when the Penguins open training camp Friday in Cranberry. He said he's been running and skating since July 5.

While admitting he and the team would monitor his health on a day-to-day basis, Letang expressed nothing but optimism about the workload he will be able to handle with a surgically repaired neck.

Does he plan to take days off during the season to try to stay rested?


“I'm healthy,” Letang said. “That's the only thing I know. I don't know why I would rest. The energy is going to be there, that's for sure.”

Does he plan to continue to play nearly 30 minutes per game like he has become accustomed to doing over the past few seasons?


“I will,” Letang said. “That's what I want to do. That's part of my game, the way I play. Obviously, that's my goal. I have no expectation. I'm just going to go the way I always did and go from there.”

Does he plan to tone down his fearless, aggressive style of play in the hopes of staying off the injured list?


“Everybody's different, the way they play out there,” Letang said. “There's certain things to avoid, that's for sure, but it's not going to change my game.”

Letang conceded his answers to those questions might have been different if they were posed in the minutes and days immediately following his surgery. It was, after all, a serious procedure. For a while, he had doubts about his future on the ice.

“It was hard. I'm not going to lie,” Letang said. “It was a tough first two weeks. There's a lot that goes through your mind. After that, I started getting more confidence. When the guys were playing, I was actually able to work out and do little things. I got my confidence back that I was going to be healthy.”

Needless to say, a healthy and confident Letang would make a significant impact on the way the Penguins play. In addition to the difficult minutes he handles, no single player can spark the team's transition game like Letang.

“He's such a key part of our team,” defenseman Justin Schultz said. “Even when he was out, he was around and helping us out. Now to have him back on the ice is going to be huge for us.”

The lineup Letang returns to isn't the same as the one he left. Ron Hainsey and Trevor Daley are gone from the defense. Departed centers Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen did some of their best work on the defensive end. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is gone, too.

Still, Letang was just as optimistic Tuesday about his team's chances at a three-peat as he was about the health of his neck.

“The main guys, the key guys, are still the same,” Letang said. “We have the same core group. The younger guys have more experience. It's just going to help our team.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.