July 21, 2024

Penguins’ Kris Letang is not focused on pending free agency and rumors of departure.
Kris Letang did not deny being aware of it. But for him, it’s nothing new.

The veteran defenseman’s eight-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins expires this summer, sparking a lot of “noise” in the form of rumors that his tenure with the team will also end.

“That noise has been in my ear for eight years, so it doesn’t really matter,” Letang said on Wednesday.

Rumours that Letang and the Penguins will be unable to reach an agreement on an extension of his contract, which pays him an average of $7.25 million per year, point to a return to his native Quebec to play for the Montreal Canadiens.

Letang, as expected, did not directly address any specific rumors, but he made it clear that he would not participate in spreading them.
“At the end of the day, I’m 34 years old, so hearing those things doesn’t bother me anymore,” Letang said. “Whatever happens, occurs. It’s beyond my control right now, and all I want to do is focus on what’s important — which is our team this year and trying to win a championship.”

Letang’s 16th season has been one of his best. He has the second-highest points per 60 minutes of play in his career (2.5) and is on track to set career highs in assists (42 in 51 games) and plus/minus (plus-17). His 25 minutes and 50 seconds of ice time this season is his third highest in his career.

“‘Tanger’ is just an elite player,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said, “and he has played that way throughout my time in Pittsburgh and beyond. So I’m not sure what he’s doing differently this year in terms of his personal game.

“He’s quietly had a very solid year for us.”

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