PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Penguins confirm that defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stoke last week.

There were reports last week that an unknown illness could put Letang’s season, if not his career, in jeopardy. However, the teams says the stroke “is not believed to be career threatening.”

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Officials with the team said Friday morning that Letang will be out for the next six weeks and that he will be treated with blood thinners.

“Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week,” General Manager Ray Shero said in a statment. “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.”

The team says doctors found a hole in the wall of Letang’s heart, which has been there since birth — which could be what caused the stroke.

Former NHL GM Craig Button joined Ron Cook to talk about the Letang news and where the team goes from here:

The team says 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 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.

The Fan’s Joe Starkey and Chris Mueller spoke with the director of Acute Stroke Services at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Olajide Williams.

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Dr. Williams spoke specifically about the hole in Letang’s heart, the role it may have played in his stroke, and what action, if any, they will take to fix it.

Listen to the whole interview here:

Starkey and Mueller were also joined by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ beat writer Jonathan Bombulie, of the Citizens Voice in Wilkes-Barre, who talked about the options the Pens have in their minor leagues to replace Kris Letang while he is out recovering from the stroke he suffered.

Bombulie also discusses other internal options such as Robert Bortuzzo who could bring something different to the table than Letang.

Listen to the whole interview here:

Finally, Starkey and Mueller talked with TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger who says there was no leak of the news to the national media before today regarding Letang’s stroke, so they were all just as surprised as we were.

Dreger says from what he has heard and read, the six week minimum time frame seems a bit optimistic and it could be much longer than that since he’ll be off his skates all this time, too.

Dreger also helps us take a look ahead at what the Pens will need to do to replace Letang with the trade deadline coming up and how this may change the plans they previously had in place.

Listen to the whole interview here:

Cardiologist Explains Letang’s Condition (2/7/14)
Fans Worried About Letang, Wish Him Full Recovery (2/7/14)
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