Penguins' Kris Letang leaves team ahead of Winter Classic after father's death

Letang missed the Penguins' 2-1 loss to the Bruins in the Winter Classic after learning of his father's passing earlier Monday.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left Boston ahead of the Winter Classic to return to Montreal after his father passed away on Monday morning. (Reuters)

Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang missed the 2023 NHL Winter Classic on Monday to be with his family after the passing of his father in the morning.

Letang—who had returned to the club for less than a month since suffering a stroke in late November—left Boston Monday morning to be with his family in Montreal.

"We want to express our sincere and deepest sympathy for him during this time,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.

Pittsburgh went on to lose the Winter Classic 2-1 to the Boston Bruins in front of a packed Fenway Park.

After missing time and struggling with injury as well as the stroke, the three-time Stanley Cup champion has registered 16 points in 29 games played this season. He was not expected to play Monday as he is also dealing with a lower-body injury.

After recovering from the stroke — the second of his career — the 35-year-old put things into perspective with a wife and two kids at home.

"My kids, they don't care if I'm a hockey player or not. They care if they have a dad,” said Letang following his return to the ice just ten days after his stroke. “Same thing with my wife. She could care less about hockey and everything. She knows there's so much more."

Fouquet worked as an 18-wheeler truck salesman and—along with Letang's mother Christiane —instilled a love of sport early on that would take him all the way to the NHL. The Montreal-born blue liner remembers fondly how his father bought him a jersey of his favourite player.

"My favourite player growing up was Pavel Bure," Letang told in 2020. "He was exciting to watch. I remember my dad brought me a Bure jersey from Florida when he went there for work."

There are no other details about the events surrounding Fouquet’s passing or a timetable for Letang’s return to the Penguins.

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