Kris Letang has done it all when it comes to playing in the National Hockey League. The 34-year-old has won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and been named to the All-Star team on six separate occasions.
Despite all his success though, the defenceman refuses to rest on his laurels and is more motivated than ever to lift another trophy ahead of his 16th season in the NHL.
“Every single thing I tried to accomplish in the summer, or in the season – which could be video or sitting down with (assistant coach Todd Reirden) and working on different things – is all just to accomplish one goal, and one goal only,” Letang said, via NHL.com. “To win games and win a championship. So I’m excited again. I’ve said for the last 15 years that when you have a guy like Sid or a guy like Geno on your team, it’s pretty hard not to think that you’re a Cup contender.
“Obviously, at the start of the year, we don’t have those guys. But as soon as you see those names on your roster, you have to believe that you’re going to go far, and you’re going to try to win this.”
Letang’s work effort hasn’t gone unnoticed by others either, with trainer Jonathan Chaimberg also commenting on how inspiring the veteran is.
“It’s crazy,” Chaimberg said. “He’s always been the standard, but your standard when you’re 24 years old is one thing. Now he’s already a six-time All-Star and three-time Stanley Cup champion, and it’s just unreal that he is almost getting better.”
Letang was drafted 62nd overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft – the same year they selected current captain Sidney Crosby first overall. Much like Crosby, Letang has spent his entire professional career with the Penguins organization, going through a plethora of ups and downs.
“I think the most important thing that people should understand about Kris is the amount he cares about the Penguins,” Chaimberg continued. “I’ve been with him 11 years, so I know what he’s done. But the sacrifices he’s made and the kind of team guy he is…I’ve been around a lot of guys who are out for themselves. They want to put up good numbers, and they’re playing for their next contract, and they’re sort of more worried about themselves versus the team. When it comes to Kris, anything the team says to do, he does. He’s the ultimate, ultimate, ultimate professional.”
The Penguins have not made it past the first round of the playoffs since the 2017-18 season, when they were eliminated in the second round by the Washington Capitals. However, they did win back-to-back Stanley Cups prior to that and Letang seems desperate to get back to winning ways. He also wants to prove he is one of the best to ever play the game.
“My friends, my parents, my wife… a lot of people always say why? Why don’t you just take it easy, man?” Letang said smiling. “I’m like, I’m in this game to be the best player at all times. I’m not there to play 25 minutes, 30 minutes from 25 years old to 29 years old and after that, slow it down. No. I take pride in working really hard off the ice and being in shape and making sure my body is ready for 25-30 minutes.”
The Penguins begin the 2021-22 NHL season on Tuesday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm E.T. from the Amalie Arena.