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After stroke, Kris Letang unsure when he’ll return to Penguins

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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The good news for Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is that the stroke he suffered last month won't end his hockey career. Now it's just a matter of when he's able to resume playing.

Meeting with the media on Thursday for the first time since the Penguins announced what took him from back in late January, Letang said that doctors told him, because of his young age (he's 26), he has a very high percentage of a normal recovery.

The morning the Penguins were to fly to Los Angeles last month, Letang's wife woke up and found him on the floor, unable to function. His mother-in-law, a nurse, was there and able to take care of him. It was when he finally arrived in LA, where he underwent a battery of tests, that it was revealed that he had suffered a stroke.

Immediately, his future flashed before his eyes.

"You think if you're going to be alright, if I'm going to have the chance to play hockey again," he said.

A month later, Letang said he has good days and bad days as he still deals with some symptoms from the stroke. Doctors also found a small hole in his heart that he was born with, but they aren't concerned about that and the focus is solely on dealing with the after-effects of the stroke.

For now, Letang can hold light work outs and has been around Penguins' practices in the last week, something that's helped his state of mind during his recovery.

"I don't want to hang out at home," Letang said. "It's fun to have my son and he's growing fast, but to be around the team and coming into the rink, working out, seeing doctors, I feel like I'm trying to make steps getting closer to come back at one point."

Letang said he will be staying on blood thinners and sometime in the next few weeks will meet with doctors to go through more tests in order to determine the next steps in his recovery.

“I was surrounded by great doctors,” he said. “They took great care of me. All of my questions were answered. I feel I'm making progress.”

Despite his future being unknown at the moment, Letang isn't closing the door on a return this season.

"If I have the chance to come back this year, it's going to be great.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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