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‘That Noise Has Been in My Ear for 8 Years,’ Letang Dismisses Montreal Rumors

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang

New day, same stuff. Pittsburgh Penguins top defenseman Kris Letang does not have a contract beyond this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the only team he’s known in his 16 year NHL career. The contract was supposed to be done by now, and Letang’s Penguins future secure.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Letang were supposed to ride into the sunset together.

That was the top priority per GM Ron Hextall last summer.

But a new administration, a new owner, and an evolving situation have clouded the future.

Here we are, nearly spring, and there has been no tangible progress on Letang’s new contract. Consequently, the chatter is growing in Montreal. Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported that Letang’s hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens, are eying one or more free-agent splashes this summer. The Canadiens brass wants veterans to shepherd the herd of young players coming and win games.

It’s an out-of-the-box rebuild in Montreal, who could target the French-speaking Letang, who checks all boxes for being a star in Montreal and a leader in the locker room.

Oh, and Letang’s agent, Kent Hughes, recently left that business to become the Canadiens GM.

Yeah, cue the Montreal Canadiens rumors. The NHL trade rumors are gone, now it’s about next year, and they’re getting loud. Letang was formerly one of the more sensitive players and knew all about the public discourse. The older, mature Letang laughed as he glided past the issue of his future when PHN asked about the noise.

“That noise been in my ear for eight years, so it doesn’t really matter. You know, at the end of the day, I’m like, 34-years old. I’ve been through those things. It doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Letang laughed. “Whatever happens, happens. You know, it’s out of my control for right now. And I just want to focus on what’s important-that’s our team this year and trying to win a championship.”

“And that’s it.”

Kris Letang Production

Letang has been a points machine this season. In 51 games, he’s popped 48 points (6-42-48). He’s among the top five or six defensemen in scoring and having one of his finest seasons. He won’t garner much Norris conversation because the kids Cale Makar and Adam Fox are soaking up the attention, but Letang is quietly pushing the Penguins forward.

He’s only five points behind Jake Guentzel for the team lead in points, and perhaps more importantly, 30 of his points have been at even strength. He’s not padding the stats with power-play markers.

“I think Tanger is just an elite player and has played that way for my whole time here in Pittsburgh and beyond … I think when he’s at his best, he takes what the game gives him, and he just has such great instincts, and he’s just a terrific athlete,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “His skating ability is his mobility, his ability to see the ice and jump into the offense at different (times) when the windows of opportunity present themselves. I think that’s what makes Tanger elite.”

It probably won’t quiet the rumors in Montreal or around the league. That won’t happen until we have tangible evidence of contract talks and progress.

There are two top-pairing right-side defensemen about to hit the NHL free-agent market. John Klingberg (DAL) and Letang. After that, there is a steep drop. In January, Kris Letang told us he wanted to play until he’s 40 or beyond. In French, he joked with the Montreal media that he wanted to play until 45.

Perhaps Letang, Sidney Crosby, and Jaromir Jagr can all retire in 10 years.

 

 

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Fredrick
Fredrick
2 months ago

#JagrWatch

Mary Lurwick
Mary Lurwick
2 months ago

My prediction in that Rusty signs for $6 million, Geno at a team friendly contract, and Tanger stays to ride off into the sunset with Sid and Geno. No one new has proven to be able to play with Sid. They brought Zuck and Kappy to play with Sid and neither developed chemistry. They moved E-Rod up with Sid and his scoring dried up. To take a chance on letting Rusty leave will feel more like a rebuild. Rusty gives 100% at all times, he’s not going to slow down. Tanger is the ultimate athlete: takes care of his body,… Read more »

Paul
Paul
2 months ago

Can’t think of a better way for MAF and Letang to finish their careers than in their home town. Wouldn’t surprise me if the Canadiens are legit contenders sooner than later. They seem intent to turn it around quickly, a process that has started already.

Last edited 2 months ago by Paul
Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Price will be (a very old) 35 by the start of next season. Expect the Canadiens will move on from him like they tried to do in the last expansion draft. I mean, it’s not like the guy has won a Stanley Cup or anything.

David
David
2 months ago

Sentiments aside — if either Malkin or Letang must go it needs to be Malkin. I hope both stay, but in cold-blooded business terms, the Pens have proven they can consistently win without out Malkin. And Letang has more years left.

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