found out this morning he had to cancel his plans for the All-Star break, but he’s OK with that.
That’s because the NHL announced today that the Penguins defenseman has been added to the roster for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, which will be played this coming Sunday, Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Letang, 24, will be making his second-consecutive All-Star appearance after making his debut last season in Carolina after being voted into the game by the fans.
“It was an honor to be named on the All-Star Team. I guess I was surprised,” Letang said. “To be honest, to represent my team at the All-Star Game and to be a part of all those guys and future Hall-of-Famers like (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Zdeno) Chara is always an honor. It’s going to be a great weekend.”
Letang has shined bright since returning to Pittsburgh’s lineup last week, as he’s scored twice and added two assists in his three games back since missing 21 straight with a broken nose and a concussion.
In addition, his work ethic paired with his magnificent skating ability has allowed him an expedited transition back into his usual role – highlighted by the fact that he’s led the team in minutes-played each of those three games.
“I feel pretty good,” Letang said. “I was more comfortable in the second and third games I played. Getting back into it, it wasn’t about how my body was going to react. It was more getting back into the systems and getting used to it again. I think the coach and everybody put me in a good situation to succeed.”
Overall, Letang has totaled five goals, 18 assists, 23 points and a plus-9 rating in 25 games. His 18 assists rank third on the team while his 23 points place fifth.
He joins center Evgeni Malkin
on the All-Star roster, giving the Penguins at least two All-Star representatives for the fourth straight season.
Last year, Letang attended the festivities with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
. The two players were selected onto different teams at the fantasy draft (Letang to Team Staal; Fleury to Team Lidstrom) and had a blast facing off with each other in both the SuperSkills Competition and the game itself.
“Everything was pretty cool,” Letang said of his first experience. “It was well-organized. The skills competition is fun because you can relax and watch all the guys go. The game was my first time, so I enjoyed it a lot.”
With the way Malkin has been dominating games lately, Letang hopes that they’ll be teammates this time around.
“Hopefully I will have the chance to play with him, but it’s a draft so you never know,” Letang said. “But the way he’s playing right now, it would be great to have him on my side and make sure he doesn’t make me look like a fool on the ice.”
That may be true. But if Letang keeps up his own level of play, it may be Malkin who won’t want to go against him.