Gary Roberts Wednesday - Kris Letang

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson.

Yeah, I wrote another thing about the Pens, but I didn’t want to violate one of my core principles: Whenever one of my teams makes the Stanley Cup Finals, Super Bowl, or World Series, I write a Gary Roberts Wednesday piece about a key player on that team. Since the Pirates will never make the World Series (until next year) and it’s still about nine months before I can write something about Casey Hampton, I decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

When television networks such as Versus and NBC cover the Pittsburgh Penguins, announcers constantly praise the young core of the Pens. This core, they inform their loyal viewers, consists of Russian dynamo Evgeni Malkin, hockey wonder kid Sidney Crosby, and future Vezina Trophy nominee Marc-Andre Fleury. If the announcers decide to show off their Penguins knowledge by tossing even more rising stars your way, they might drop the names of Jordan “Gronk” Staal or Ryan Whitney. Little do these announcers know, there is another key member of Pittsburgh’s young guns. Defenceman Kristopher Letang, age 21 from Montreal, is young enough to have been sired by Gary Roberts. He is also a rock on the Pens blue line.

Outside of Pittsburgh, Letang is not exactly an unknown commodity. He played for Canada in the World Junior Championships in 2006 and 2007, scoring a gold medal each time. He was also an elite defenceman for the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the QMJHL before he joined the Penguins, and he even made the NHL YoungStars game during the 2008 NHL All-Star weekend. He also scintillated Western Canada during Sidney Crosby’s first trip there, scoring shootout winners in Calgary and Vancouver.

All those achievements, however, have not gotten Letang the broad recognition he deserves. Like I said at the top, he is consistently overshadowed by other young Penguins like Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury. Members of the hockey media, like the misinformed scoundrels they are, never give the man his props. I present Exhibit A, the prototypical summary of the Penguins youth movement, from Fox Sports. If anyone else rattles off the list of young stars on the Penguins while leaving out Kris Letang, I might just have to write a strongly worded letter addressed to them expressing my displeasure.

Things, eventually, will change. Letang’s rock solid decision-making, plus his ability to dole out extraordinary punishment from his 5’11” frame, will make him a great defender in the NHL for years to come. Although he came into Pittsburgh being touted as a puck-moving defenceman who would give an immediate boost to the power play with his right-handed shot, he ended up being another player the Pens can deploy when they go into shutdown mode with a two goal lead. With time, Letang will develop into a great player on both ends of the ice (remember, when this year’s playoffs started Letang was only 20).While some of the Pens may leave Pittsburgh due to salary cap constraints or the locals chasing them out a la Tommy Maddox (Ryan Whitney has drawn some comparisons to dog feces in the past), Letang will be staying, mostly thanks to General Manager Ray Shero’s infatuation with really really good hockey players.

Inside the Numbers
+7 up to this point in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs
17 points in the 2007-08 season
2 World Junior Championships gold medals
31 points in the 2007 QMJHL Playoffs
1 QMJHL award for “personality of the year” (the Paul Dumont Trophy)

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson.

3 Responses to “Gary Roberts Wednesday - Kris Letang”

  1. AJ Says:

    Maybe its because I’m a bit drunk right now, but when I first read the headline, I thought it said Chris Kattan

  2. Pope Says:

    As much as it pains me to say as a die-hard Red Wings fan for many years, I would like to say that I agree with you about Mr. Letang.
    I hope he chokes on a giant horse dick during this next round and develops cement feet syndrome but like I said, I do agree.

  3. Stu P S Says:

    Much like Chris Kattan’s comedy, there’s nothing funny about Kris Letang’s hockey ability.

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