Few players can say they have accomplished what Kris Letang has over the course of his career. The 34-year-old defenseman has won three Stanley Cups, been named to the All-Star team six times and even has a World Junior Gold medal that he won with Canada as well.
Despite everything he has achieved though, he hasn’t even thought about slowing down anytime soon. He is still playing over 25 minutes a night and is a leader on and off the ice for the Penguins.
“It’s fun, honestly. I’ve said it several times in my career, I want to keep playing 25-26 minutes a night. I don’t want to take a step back in terms of minutes. I want to work, I want to train, I want to do everything I can to play at the same level, no matter my age,” Letang said, via Pittsburgh Hockey Now.
“In terms of production, of course, I’d like to produce more. I don’t think I’ve reached the peak of what I can do offensively yet this season. It’s a work in progress, and I’m going to keep working hard at it. I’m trying to help the team no matter the situation. Whether it’s the penalty kill, power play, whatever.”
When a reporter asked if he was going to play until he was 40, he simply responded by saying “45”.
The veteran has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh with the Penguins, after they drafted him with the 62nd overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He told members of the media that he thought it would be special to spend his entire career in one place with one franchise, before turning a question about Pittsburgh’s identity into high praise for his teammates.
“That would be No. 87 (who provides the organization’s identity). No. 87 for sure. No. 71 as well. It can be traced back to ownership, Mario Lemieux, and it comes from there. We spoke of Flower before. When Flower was here, he fought for every puck and every rebound…”
Letang was of course talking about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who have also both spent their entire careers with the Penguins, helping them to win three Stanley Cups. Crosby was drafted the same year as Letang was, but he was taken with the first overall selection. Malkin arrived the year prior in 2004 and was drafted with the second overall pick that year, just behind Alexander Ovechkin.
The Penguins have made the playoffs every season since 2006-07, being led by the likes of Letang, Crosby and Malkin. However, they have not made it past the opening round since losing to the Washington Capitals in the second round in 2018.
The Penguins currently find themselves battling for a playoff spot in the competitive Metropolitan Division, where they sit fourth. They have suffered several injuries, including to Malkin, who has yet to play a game this season. However, they will need to figure out a solution quickly if they plan on getting back to the playoffs.