Letang to have neck surgery, out for the playoffs

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The Pittsburgh Penguins’ chances of becoming the first back-to-back champs in the salary-cap era took a huge hit today with the news that defenseman Kris Letang‘s season is over.

The Pens announced Wednesday that Letang will undergo surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. His recovery period is expected to be 4-6 months.

“Kris underwent an MRI in February that revealed a herniated disc in his neck,” GM Jim Rutherford said in a release. “Our neurosurgeons examined him and recommended conservative treatment in an attempt to correct the condition without surgery. Kris had been making progress and was hopeful of returning for the playoffs until about a week ago, when the progress plateaued. He underwent another MRI, and, at that point it was determined that surgery was needed.”

Letang played arguably the best hockey of his career in helping the Pens to the 2016 Stanley Cup. He had three goals and 12 assists in 23 playoff games while averaging a team-high 28:53 of ice time.

Analysis: No way to sugarcoat loss of Letang