The Pittsburgh Penguins had just finished off a 10-day road trip with a 4-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes. The team was eager to go home and get some rest ahead of Tuesday’s matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, at PPG Paints Arena. The team hasn’t been home since leaving for the Winter Classic in Boston on New Year’s Eve.
But instead of flying home, the team decided to sacrifice time with their families to support a fellow teammate.
Kris Letang has had a nightmare of a season. He signed a new contract with the Pens in July. It was the organization’s biggest priority, and Letang said he never considered playing elsewhere. But in November, Letang suffered a second stroke of his life. It was hours after a Penguins practice, and many feared it would be bad.
But Letang was back just two weeks later but wasn’t healthy for long. A lower-body injury meant Letang would miss the Winter Classic. He never went to Fenway Park, as news came out that his father had died in Montreal.
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And that’s why the Pittsburgh team decided not to travel to Pittsburgh, despite just finishing a long road trip. Instead, the team traveled to Montreal in the middle of the night and arrived at 4 a.m. Just hours later, they attended the funeral of Claude Fouquet, father of Kris Letang, per The Athletic.
According to the outlet, the coaching staff and team veterans discussed it, and head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t just agree on traveling to Montreal, but he also ”spearheaded the decision.”
The Penguins weren’t sure about traveling. Penguins considered that funerals are private but still wanted to be there if Letang needed the support. They also had a member of the Penguins’ front office fly to Phoenix on Sunday just to deliver the players’ passports. Their road trip games were in Boston, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, but now, they were going to Canada, and luckily, everything was sorted in time for the team to make it over the border, to support a teammate and friend in need.
The Pittsburgh Penguins now get less time to prepare for Tuesday’s game, but sometime’s, there are more important things to life than hockey.
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