Just as the Pittsburgh Penguins were enjoying some nice injury luck with only a few secondary players missing time, star defenseman Kris Letang suffered another concussion on a hit from Dallas Stars forward Eric Nystrom in last night’s game.
This is huge. Letang missed time earlier in the season after suffering a concussion on a similar hit from Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Letang was once again establishing himself as one of the best all-around blueliners in the game with nine goals and 31 points in 40 games this year.
Letang was also helping turn Paul Martin‘s season around as the two were paired together for the past few games and were playing well.
Now, the Penguins will need to find a new power play quarterback. With the NHL Trade Deadline just passed, that player will have to come from within the organization. Matt Niskanen played well in Letang’s first extended absence. Hopefully he can pick up some of the minutes and points Letang will leave behind, but it will likely be extremely difficult to replace Letang’s 25+ minutes per game.
Watch the hit below. Check out the view at the :50 mark. Clear contact between Nystrom’s bicep and Letang’s face (nice call, Jeremy Roenick).
The Dallas Morning News reports Nystrom will not be disciplined for his hit despite the league’s ongoing battle with concussions and its attempt to rid the game of hits to the head. Both of those happened on the play so I’m not quite sure how Nystrom won’t be disciplined, but such is life with Brendan Shanahan as the NHL’s lead disciplinarian.
The Penguins won the game 4-3 in a shootout and play next on Saturday at 9 PM ET against the Colorado Avalanche.
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