Kris Letang cleared to return to practice

Justin K. Aller

Kris Letang has been cleared for full practice by doctors and will rejoin his Pittsburgh Penguin teammates on Monday on the ice. When will he return to the lineup?

Some rare good news for injuries was announced today by Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. From the team:

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and forward Beau Bennett have been cleared for full practice by doctors and will participate in the team’s Monday afternoon practice.

Both players are not limited in anyway during the practice, though there is no timeframe for when either will return to the lineup.

Letang, 26, suffered a stroke on Jan. 29 and has been out of the lineup since. He was on blood thinners for six weeks as part of his recovery period. Sunday marked the final day of that six-week period.

"We had an idea that at this point in time he could possibly be cleared to practice," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He still has some other things to go through. He’s been working out, skating on his own and doing quite a bit on his own.

"To see Kris return to practice tomorrow will be a good thing for Kris, good thing for us."

Bennett, 22, has been practicing with the team since March 9 and met with doctors this weekend to re-evaluate his hand/wrist injury.

Bennett originally suffered the injury Nov. 22 in a 4-3 win against the New York Islanders. Bennett underwent surgery three days later. He suffered a setback on Feb. 25, but began been skating on his own Jan. 9.

I hate to pump the breaks on good news, but let's just remember that Sidney Crosby joined the Penguins in practice when he was recovering from his concussion/neck issue on April 1st, 2011. Crosby wouldn't play a game until over seven months later on November 21st, 2011.

Of course, different players, way different medical issues, so time will tell what will happen. The Pens continue to say there's no timetable for any possible Letang return. Reading between the lines, it seems like a great step that Letang was cleared to get off blood thinners as soon as possible. Doctors have told him, he's said, that no surgery will be required. All the news and updates have seemed to be at least cautious good news, highlighted by this tangible progress of Letang getting cleared to practice with no limitations.

Having a stroke, of course, is uncharted territory for a professional hockey player, so a lot could be up in the air or still to be decided. It wasn't but six or seven weeks ago that Letang's status got thrown into this uncertainty, so we should all be prepared to be patient and continue to hope for good news.

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