In midst of rehab, Letang doing what he can to support his fellow Penguins

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Kris Letang greets Sidney Crosby after the Game 7 defeat of the Senators. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Kris Letang hasn't stepped a skate onto the ice since the first week of April, when the team announced he had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

He's still on track for a return to competition in the fall, but in the meantime, he's taken great measures to stay involved with the only team he's known in 11 seasons of professional hockey.

In ways both ceremonial, like reading the Penguins' starting lineup before each playoff game, and tactical, such as sharing insight gained from the press box with his teammates, Letang has been a constant presence through 20 playoff games.

"I try to help, but I'm not the big voice out there," Letang said, smiling from behind a podium after the Penguins' optional Tuesday practice at the Lemieux Sports Complex. "To see them at this level, at this stage, it's fun to watch. I'm happy to watch them."