PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Friday that 26-year-old defenseman Kris Letang will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week.
Executive vice president and general manager of the team, Ray Shero, said the condition is treatable with blood thinners and, at this point, is not believed to be career threatening.
In a news release, Shero said, further testing also revealed that Letang has had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth. This small defect in the wall is present in all individuals before birth but seals shut in most people. It is possible that the hole in the heart led to the stroke.
"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."
Dr. Dharmesh Vyas of UPMC was on the road trip as part of his regular duties with the team and has been overseeing Letang's care. Letang will be re-evaluated after six weeks of treatment by UPMC physicians.
Letang has been cleared to go on vacation with his family during the NHL's Olympic break.
"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. "It obviously was a shock to get the news but I'm optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice."
"The most important thing right now, of course, is Kris' health," Shero said. "We're not thinking about hockey right now. We want to make sure he gets the best possible care and gets better. After six weeks of treatment, doctors will re-evaluate Kris."
The 6-foot, 201-pound Letang was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman last season. He has 10 goals and 18 points in 34 games this season. In 419 career games over seven seasons, Letang has 54 goals and 227 points.
He was the Penguins' third-round draft pick, 62nd overall, in 2005 and played a key role in the team's Stanley Cup championship in 2009.