Penguins defenseman Kris Letang
returned to practice with his teammates on Tuesday for the first time in nearly two months.
“It feels great just to be back on the ice,” said Letang, who has missed the last 20 games with a concussion and a broken nose sustained Nov. 26 vs. Montreal. “And today being the first time with my teammates, it felt really good.”
While Letang felt fine on the ice this morning, he said that he will see how the week goes and talk with Penguins general manager Ray Shero and the coaching staff before they determine a return date.
Letang admitted he’d like to play as quickly as possible, saying “the sooner the better. I want to get ready for this week.”
The Pens host Carolina tonight, travel to New York to face the Rangers Thursday before returning to Pittsburgh for a tilt against Montreal on Friday.
But with that being said, Letang also knows he can’t rush a return to game action, especially with how long he’s been out.
“Obviously we don’t want to rush it. I had a lot of discussions with (Shero) and the coaches,” Letang said. ‘We’re going to make a decision when I’m going to be ready. … We’ll see how the week goes.”
It’s been a long road to recovery for the talented young blueliner, who started experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and headaches the morning after absorbing a high hit from Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Letang, 24, had symptoms for about a month afterward before he started feeling better.
“With my concussion, I went through a month with a lot of symptoms and not being able to get out of bed,” he said. “It was rough times. But as I was getting better and starting to get treated by different people, it just went better and better. When I got symptom-free, that’s the first time I tried to exercise.”
Letang took the next step in his recovery by joining his teammates at practice today. And he couldn’t conceal his excitement at being back around the guys and being able to skate.
“Honestly, I’ve been up since 7 (a.m.),” he said. “Usually I wake up around 8 or 9. I was really excited to go to the rink today and have the chance to practice with the guys.”
(FOR THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF LETANG'S COMMENTS, CLICK HERE