LOS ANGELES – Kris Letang is sick.
That is the official stance by the Penguins, anyway.
He did not look sick Thursday morning, as Letang was – per usual – one of the last skaters off the ice after a practice. He showed no symptoms – pale skin tone, fatigue, congestion-impaired breathing or talking – that generally come with the common cold or flu while speaking with teammates in the visiting dressing room after the Penguins’ 4-1 victory at Staples Center.
Several Penguins players, when pressed Thursday night, politely declined to share any reasons as for why Letang did not play against the Los Angeles Kings; though each said he behaved normally in the morning practice – specifically, doing individual stick work long after most players had gone to the dressing room.
Letang is among the most prideful, hardest working players on the Penguins. There normally would be absolutely no reason to believe something was afoul regarding his not playing. That is especially true because he has a history of migraine headaches that come on strong.
Still, the feel from being around the Penguins on Thursday night was that great effort was being taken to protect the reason Letang did not play.
Coach Dan Bylsma said he was battling an illness, and that the illness did not start Thursday.
The only thing seemingly for sure is that Letang was not removed from the lineup because of trade talks involving him. (Still, good job going straight to that presumption, Twitterverse. Sigh.)
The word – based off conversations with Penguins management and a few other team personnel around the NHL – is that Letang is not being shopped, and that GM Ray Shero is not all that interested in hearing offers involving him.
>> One great thing about covering a game in Los Angeles is getting to catch up with people in the NHL world that have their ears close to the ground on potential developments, especially trades. Spoke with some of those people on Thursday, and here is their consensus regarding possible Penguins trades:
Don’t hold your breath waiting for one.
Their read, so far, is that Shero wants not part of rental players, doesn’t like the extreme sellers’ market that exits, and, most crucial, he lacks the salary-cap space to make a big-splash move.
Nobody would rule out a big-splash move – an actual hockey trade – by Shero this summer, pending just how far the Penguins go in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (So, dream, babies, dream.)
Anyway, only passing this along because it is consistent with other information passed along in recent days.
As always, things can change fast regarding trades, but it just does not sound like the Penguins are in on a lot as of Friday.
The trade deadline is March 5, but NHL rosters are frozen from Feb. 7-23 for the Olympics.
>> Captain American is about to be named. Even if it’s not him, the Kings’ Dustin Brown will be a crucial leader in Sochi: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5499119-74/brown-kings-bylsma#axzz2rx53zmfZ
>> So, maybe the Western Conference teams don’t match up well with the skill of the Penguins? Nah, couldn’t be, right? GAMER: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/pensgalleries/5499125-74/penguins-kings-period
>> Mommaaaah. Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. NOTES: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5499131-74/penguins-players-mothers#axzz2rx53zmfZ
>> The new practice facility jumped a hurdle: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5505876-74/penguins-development-cranberry
Off to some part of Arizona; be EXCELLENT to each other,