Kristopher Letang could soon become the third Quebec defenseman in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) to collect 700 points. If he finds himself in this situation today, it is because of his hard work.
Only Raymond Bourque (1,579) and Steve Duchesne (752) are ahead of the 36-year-old in that regard. The Pittsburgh Penguins member has a good chance of one day surpassing the other because he still has good years ahead of him, even if his role has changed.
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Letang is no longer playing on the first power play unit since the arrival of Erik Karlsson – one of two active defensemen with more than 700 career points – and is spending more time on the penalty kill.
“The game has to slow down a bit, but I feel pretty good fitness-wise. I’m playing a slightly different role, with more time on the penalty kill this year. I feel good about it,” he said, his comments reported Wednesday by NHL.com.
The sacrifices and hard work that Letang is putting in will greatly please the rest of the Penguins. Prior to Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, he had eight points in 14 games and an average ice time of 24:32.
His teammate Ryan Graves, with whom he spars regularly, did not hesitate to compare him to another great: Sidney Crosby.
“You see a lot of guys, when they progress in their careers, they don’t go on the ice as long. They somehow lose their youthful energy. I’ve known Sid for a while. I know he is like that and that he loves this sport. ‘Tanger’ is kind of the same, they don’t look or act like guys their age,” Graves said.
Letang has nothing left to prove after winning three Stanley Cups and playing more than 1,000 games at the highest level. The Montrealer leads the Penguins in most categories among defensemen.
“When you look at our stars, and Kris is one of them, I think I’ve had the privilege of watching them on a daily basis for almost a decade,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. I have so much admiration for the work they do. I would say that “Tanger” is a guy with an incredible work ethic because of the way he trains, but also on the ice when he shows his skills.