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Should Penguins fans even bother voting Kris Letang into the All-Star game?

The NHL is giving fans the chance to pick the last All-Star selection. Why Kris Letang might be better off not going

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NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the NHL released the Metropolitan Division roster of all-stars, a name conspicuous in its absence was that of Kris Letang. Letang is a four-time all-star, including the last two of the last three seasons where this 3-on-3 format has been used. Ironically, he’s playing a ton better this year when he wasn’t named than last year when he was on the all star team.

The Penguins’ lone all-star, Sidney Crosby, thought Letang should be included. From Josh Yohe at The Athletic:

“Well, we all appreciate what he does,” Crosby said. “It’s not easy to narrow it down, but he’s played unbelievably. He’s an all-star in our eyes.

Letang was slightly less verbose when asked about the snub.

Is he upset about not being named to the team?

“No,” he said.

Would he care to elaborate?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t control those things.”

As we pointed out recently, Letang’s stats are impressive - he’s fourth among all NHL defensemen currently in goals. Sixth in points. Fourth in total ice-time. Definitely all-star boxcars there, including 12 points better than Columbus’ Seth Jones who did get named. (Not to take anything away from Jones though, he’s a tremendous and deserving player in his own right).

The NHL is offering fans a chance to vote for the final spot. One player from every team is on the list. Letang is the Pens’ representative.

...But, wait, should fans even bother to do it?

The all-star weekend is January 24-26, right smack dab in the middle of the Pens’ bye week. It’s also in Los Angeles, 3000 miles away from Pittsburgh. A lot of players do elect to travel somewhere warm for the off week, but this would force a lengthy trip back on Letang.

Given his family situation with a couple of young kids, it might be advantageous to stay at home...Or at least not base a vacation on traveling cross-continent and participating in all the activities associated with NHL All-Star weekend; with skills contests, sponsor meetings, fan involvement and all the other trappings that zap time from the players’ schedules.

All of that (plus the bye week implications) made Washington’s Alex Ovechkin want to beg out of the event. He got some derision online, but I don’t think it’s a bad decision at all. Being energized and ready for the spring is better than throwing a monkey wrench into plans and playing in an exhibition.

Also, of course, more pertinently for Letang, there’s the 26 minutes a night Letang is playing and keeping him off skates for a few days to rest and relax would be nice. OK, if you know Letang you know he’s probably training during those days anyways so it’s not like there would be a ton of difference there.

As NHL contracts go, there’s no team-bonus in salary for Letang, since he’s not on an entry-level contract. Though there might be modest league granted stipend, it’s not obviously hurting his pocketbook to not be an all-star. There of course is the appeal and intrigue and accomplishment of being known as “Five Time All Star Kris Letang” when not too many players make the squad these days.

So I can see it both ways. Really doesn’t matter much to me — and since it isn’t going to cost the guy money — as a Penguin fan I think I lean to kind of hoping Letang doesn’t win the fan vote and make the all-star team. Gives him a chance for less to do on what is already full plate with his personal and professional life and a nice chance to recharge.

But if he makes it, he’s already said he would go. So if he wants to go and hang out with his hockey buddies and also be in the spotlight and get the deserved praise of being one of the best, well, that’s fine by me too. Hockey players love to play hockey and Letang — though coy to Yohe — probably would love to be recognized for his achievements and get to join in with the other best players in the game.

I wouldn’t even say “positives and negatives to both scenarios” because they both just mainly seem like positives in different ways. But what say you?


Do you want Kris Letang to make the all-star game?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Heck yeah - always great to get Pens players in the spotlight, it’s a cool honor
    (510 votes)
  • 51%
    Nah - better off giving him the time off
    (536 votes)
1046 votes total Vote Now