20 Questions With Kris Letang

The only people in town who don’t seem to be star-struck by the Penguins’ Kris Letang? His teammates.




 

 

It’s not easy being a man of style in the NHL, a league defined by the hockey-hair mullet, scraggly playoff beard, toothless smile and perpetual shiner.

It’s especially rough for the Penguins’ emerging star Kris Letang because the Penguins are a band of brothers—and, of course, no one busts each other’s chops quite like brothers do.

During the photo shoot for this article, word got out that “Tanger” was in the Penguins’ locker room cleaned up and ready for his close-up. Within minutes, tough-guy defenseman Brooks Orpik peeked his head in through the locker room doors, sporting one of those mischievous big-brother grins a la Wayne Arnold from “The Wonder Years.” Sidney Crosby was right behind him, peering over Orpik’s shoulder. Letang braced himself with a smirk.

“Oh man,” Crosby warned the photographer while pointing at Letang’s stylish denim loafers. “You better shoot him from the waist up.” Orpik and Crosby quickly closed the doors and retreated before any comebacks could be lobbed their way—their laughter echoing down the hallway.

Letang, who is just about the most down-to-earth 23-year-old millionaire you’ll ever meet, simply smiled and shook his head before saying, “Those guys ...”

 

PM: How did you spend your summer vacation?
KL: I trained all summer with Max Talbot in Montreal, working on my overall strength. On the ice, I practiced taking more shots from everywhere in the zone, making sure I hit the net.

Are you going through Stanley Cup withdrawal?
I think all the guys who won it in ’09 miss it already. Whenever you see a team win the Cup after you, it’s like, Man, they took it from us. You feel like you got your trophy stolen. I went on vacation during the Stanley Cup Finals because I didn’t want to see any of that. Right away, it pissed me off.

What happened in that Montreal series anyway?
When we show up against a team like Washington, we’re excited because we know they have a great team. We’re not too confident, and obviously, we hate those guys so much that it brings our game to another level. I think maybe we didn’t have that hatred for Montreal. We thought we were in control.

Will those bad memories fuel you this season?
We want to get revenge against every team, pretty much. We aren’t happy with the way last year ended, and I know all of the guys are fired up to drop the puck, especially in the new arena.

What’s the best part of your job?
Playing against the top lines. Going to Washington and knowing that I’m going to be matched against one of the best players in the league [Alexander Ovechkin].

Do you ever get nervous before those big games?
Not really, but Mario [Lemieux] was still playing when I had my first practice with the Penguins, and I had to do a drill with him and I was so nervous! Growing up, Mario and Jaromir Jagr were my favorite players. Luckily, Mario came over and talked to me and gave me a lot of tips. Even now that he’s retired, he still stops in our locker room all the time to make sure we’re never too nervous about a game.

You guys always seem like you’re having a blast on the ice.
We’re so young—we’re like kids in the dressing room. Even the older guys feel like they’re kids again, like they’re just playing to have fun. That’s why we’re a family, like brothers.

What’s the best prank you’ve witnessed on the road?
During Jordan Staal’s rookie year, someone took all the furniture from his hotel room and set it up perfectly in the hallway like it was his room. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. You never know who is the mastermind behind the pranks. But I have my theories.

Favorite day-off routine: Shopping at 412 in the South Side. Nordstrom. Saks.

Favorite eatery in the ’Burgh: Nine on Nine or Dish Osteria.

Most annoying roommate on the road: Myself? I don’t know (laughs).

Which Penguin throws the best parties? Max Talbot.

Closest friends on the team: Sid and Flower [Marc-André Fleury].

Worst locker-room DJ: Duper [winger Pascal Dupuis].

Pregame routine: I take a shower and try to clear my head.

Most unusual gift from a fan: Someone baked me cookies and gave them to me in the parking lot before a game. They were good, too.

Most misunderstood goon with a good heart: Daniel Carcillo from the Flyers is actually a nice guy.

The Penguins will lift the Cup this season because ... All four lines can score goals.

Message for Pens fans: Oh, I don’t need to ask them anything because they always deliver.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

The rest is history at ye olde Colonial Williamsburg, the former capital of Virginia and now a restored revolutionary war-era village.
Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

I snuck into a steel mill. Bethlehem, Pa. I’d been bragging about how big Pittsburgh’s industrial ruins were when a woman in a bar told me, “Bethlehem’s are bigger.” Size matters.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Inside the Ultimate Man vs. Machine Poker Match in Pittsburgh

Inside the Ultimate Man vs. Machine Poker Match in Pittsburgh

Four of the world’s best poker players are playing 120,000 hands of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em against Libratus, the poker-playing bot created by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Zach Behm was chef de cuisine at Cure in Upper Lawrenceville at the time of a July car wreck.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The latest outpost of the popular local chain is housed in the former Verde space in Garfield.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

The Steelers are going to have to attack the game to survive it, to grab it by the throat and choke it to the desired conclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Reviews of "Split," "20th Century Women" and "The Founder," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

From coast to coast and continent to continent, these couples showed that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

The locally owned active wear boutique is slated to open in March. Plus, get all the details on Pittsburgh’s new luxury residential real estate firm, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Benedict Oddi’s collection “Scouts and Nomads” will be on display in a campus gallery.

Comments