A weekend at the beach is always nice, but especially so in the middle of a grueling hockey season.
But defenseman Kris Letang sees the value of a weekend in St. Louis, which is where he will spend Jan. 24-25 for the NHL's All-Star weekend.
"A break would be fun," said Letang, who will captain the Metropolitan Division's team for the event's 3-on-3 tournament. "But when you get recognized by the league, it's also a nice thing.
"Maybe down the line, I'm going to look at my career and re-live all these things, all these experiences.
"Right now, with the tough schedule and being tired, sometimes a break is a good option. But down the line, I'd maybe regret it if I don't go."
It's the price of being elite. Letang has paid that price many times, having been an All-Star in 2011, '12, '16, '18 and '19.
Letang had a goal and two assists in last year's All-Star final as the Metro Division won the tournament by defeating the Central Division, 10-5. Sidney Crosby (of course) was the event's MVP.
The NHL changed the All-Star format to its current incarnation in 2016. Each division ices a team. Each of the tournament's three games (semis and final) consists of two 1o-minute halves. The winning team splits $1 million.
Three-on-three hockey is grueling, as we see when NHL games go to overtime.
But, on All-Star weekend, Letang notes, "It's fun. There's no hitting, so there's no wear and tear on your body. The All-Star [event] is a place where you want to showcase the talent. So you maybe give a little more room so other players can make plays."
The travel is no problem, Letang said: "Everyone knows [the Penguins] are a world-class organization. They make it so simple for the players. Quick flights. Everyone is taken care of. You don't have to do anything."
Besides the game, Letang will participate in Friday night's skills competition. His appreciation for that "depends on what I have to do."
Last year, Letang placed second in the shooting accuracy competition. He took out all the targets in 12.683 seconds, finishing behind only Boston's David Pastrnak (11.309).
Is finishing first in his event Letang's goal this year?
"As long as I don't finish last," he said. "That's what's important."
Letang, 32, has 10 goals, 19 assists and a plus-1o mark in his first 38 games this season. His 29 points ranks the 6-foot, 201-pound Montreal native 16th among defensemen despite missing eight games due to injury.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).