Letang has been on long-term injured reserve since being diagnosed with an undisclosed injury on January 26th. A few days later, it was reveled that the 26 year old defenseman suffered a minor stroke due to a small hole in his heart, a defect that he had had since childhood.
General Manager Ray Shero noted in a press conference that playing hockey was not the cause of Letang’s injury, and that coming back does not put him at an increased risk for suffering another stroke.
Though he was cleared for full contact a few weeks back, most people, myself included, thought we had seen the last of Kris Letang until next October at the earliest.
And now that he’s returned, Pittsburgh gets back their primary puck-moving defenseman just in time for the playoffs. And with center Evgeni Malkin scheduled to make his return by the end of the week, Pittsburgh will have a fully healthy roster for the postseason., something that would have been almost un-imaginable a month ago.
Letang will most likely start out on the third pairing with Rob Scuderi, which means that Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo will be watching from the press box yet again.
How Letang looks in his first game back in two and a half months is anyones guess. Given that he has been practicing full-contact for the last three weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Letang back in top-form.