Hockey players like to think of a team as a family, and there was no better illustration of that than what the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to do for one of their own on Monday.
Following their 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night, the Penguins made a surprise detour before returning home to Pittsburgh following a grueling 10-day road trip. The team arrived in Montreal at 4:00 a.m. on Monday to attend defenseman Kris Letang's father's funeral that was taking place later in the day.
According to The Athletic's Josh Yohe, the team's leadership group came together in the middle of their road trip and decided they would attend the funeral.
The change of plans presented a tricky logistical issue of financing the extra travel and accommodations. According to Yohe, a member of the Penguins' front office had to fly to Phoenix and meet the team to bring them their passports. The span of the road trip took them from Boston across the country to Arizona, but they would need the documents to enter Canada for the funeral.
Claude Fouquet passed away on the morning of Jan. 2, hours before Pittsburgh was set to take on the Boston Bruins in the 2023 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Although he would not have played in the game due to an injury, Letang left the team and flew to Montreal after hearing the news. He has not played since.
His father's passing is just the latest bit of misfortune in what has been a nightmarish few months for the 35-year-old. After a disappointing start to the season, Letang suffered a stroke — the second of his career — in late November, but miraculously returned to the ice a week and a half later.
Letang has spent all 17 of his NHL seasons with the Penguins, and was undoubtedly lifted by his teammates' heartwarming gesture in one of the most trying times of his life.
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