PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has been diagnosed with a concussion that occurred during the Nov. 26 game in Montreal in which he also broke his nose but returned to score the game-winning goal in overtime.
The injuries occurred when Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty delivered a hard hit on Letang as the defenseman was winding up to take a shot during the third period. Letang did not see Pacioretty skating hard toward him.
Letang went to the dressing room and was examined by at least one doctor, but subsequently returned to score in overtime as Pittsburgh rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. Pacioretty was not penalized at the time, but later received a three-game suspension because he made Letang’s head the principal point of contact.
Letang has not played since, and coach Dan Bylsma confirmed Monday that Letang and defenseman Zbynek Michalek have been diagnosed with concussions. Michalek also hasn't played since the Montreal game.
Bylsma defended the decision to allow Letang to return to the game, saying the team followed NHL protocol and had Letang fully checked medically away from the ice.
"Dr. (David) Mulder, I think he has the longest tenure in the League, he's well-respected, went and saw Kris and at that time," Bylsma said. "Kris didn’t have any issues other than they rearranged his nose. He was fine and ready to go back on the ice. Dr. Mulder went through the series of steps in that to clear him to go back on."
Bylsma emphasized the Penguins' training staff did not play a role in the decision.
Letang and Michalek now join team captain Sidney Crosby, Arron Asham, Eric Tangradi and Tyler Kennedy among the Penguins who have sustained concussions during the past two seasons.
Letang and Michalek will be out until they have passed their post-concussion tests and have been cleared by team doctors.
Despite missing five games this season, Letang remains among the NHL's defensemen scoring leaders with 3 goals and 16 assists in 22 games.