Letang won’t make road trip, Pens mum on injury status

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Kris Letang hasn’t played since Feb. 21, and has missed Pittsburgh’s last five games with an upper-body injury.

Now, he’ll miss at least four more.

Pens head coach Mike Sullivan announced Tuesday that Letang won’t travel with the club for its upcoming four-game Western Canada road swing through Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.

What’s more, Sullivan wouldn’t comment on the nature of his star defenseman’s injury.

From Upgruv’s Rob Rossi (video transcription):

Q: Has anybody on the team been able to rule out either concussion or any heart problems with him?

Sullivan: I’m not going to… listen, our doctor and medical staff has a good handle on it. When he’s ready to play or getting close, and we get him on the ice, we’ll let you guys know. I really don’t want to go down the road of talking details of his injury. But we’re hopeful here that he’s making progress.

Letang has a history of concussions. He also suffered a stroke in 2014, after which tests revealed he had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth, called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). In a release, the Pens said the PFO may have led to the stroke.

There have been health concerns this year, though unrelated to concussion or heart issues. Letang missed time in January with a knee injury, but returned late in the month and was a lineup fixture in February.

Upon his return, the 29-year-old was a force offensively. He had 11 points in 10 games, while playing a boatload of minutes. That included a season-high 31:07 in a 4-3 win over Winnipeg on Feb. 16, in which Letang recorded three assists.

With Letang, Trevor Daley (knee) and Olli Maatta (hand) out of the lineup, Sullivan has been working with a defensive group comprised of Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Chad Ruhwedel, Justin Schultz and trade deadline pickups Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit. Former first-round pick Derrick Pouliot is also up with the club, but was scratched for Sunday’s 4-3 win over Buffalo.