We all know all we don’t always get what we want. And, don’t worry, the same goes for star players across the National Hockey League. Defenseman Kris Letang wants to retire as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but has come to realize he might not get that chance.
In an interview with team insider Rob Rossi for The Athletic, Letang even revealed that he expects to be traded from the club that selected him 62nd overall back in 2005 and fears it more this offseason than any other. He has reportedly told teammates he is scared to get moved this fall or next summer.
Letang has two years left on his current contract, but hasn’t been the same player in the past seasons. Many fans are hopeful that the arrival of former Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden will get him back to the level he used to show on the ice, however, will he even get the chance to do so?
“In recent conversations, Rutherford has asked opposing GMs if they were “interested in Letang,” according to multiple league sources, who cautioned the Penguins’ GM wasn’t trying to trade Letang as much as “feeling out what value Letang would have.”
While general manager Jim Rutherford might have been fishing to see who’d be interested in a blue liner with $7.25 million against the salary cap next season, it sure got Letang on edge.
However, a source close to the team told Rossi that it was shocking to see Rutherford’s decision to even gauge colleague’s interest on Letang.
“How is it ‘win-now mode’ if you trade our best defenseman?” one team source said. “Trading him just doesn’t make any sense.”
For years, fans and pundits have considered Letang has part of an important core in Pittsburgh, along with captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. According to Rossi, “Rutherford has also confided to associates that he believes the “right thing is for those three players” — Letang, Crosby and Malkin — “to retire as Penguins for-life,” team and league sources said.”
We all remember last summer when trade rumours surfaced about Geno and how he came back with a vengeance, ready to show he was not done in Pittsburgh and could make them a true contender. We sure saw it when he stepped up during the absence of Crosby.
This could have the same effect on Tanger.
“The way I see it, Pittsburgh is doing with Letang what it did to Malkin a year ago — get through to him, get him to change some things and get him back to where they need him to be,” one league source said.
With that new flame inside of him, the help of coach Reirden and a win-now mentality, Letang should be back to business for 2020-21 and working hard at staying and retiring in Pittsburgh.