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Kris Letang is nearing his 32nd birthday and is a veteran of 12-plus NHL seasons. He has skated more than 20,000 combined minutes between the regular season and the playoffs, and has suffered -- in addition to the typical bumps, bruises and busted teeth that are an occupational hazard -- multiple concussions, a stroke, and a neck injury so severe it required season-ending surgery for a herniated disc.
And yet, Letang -- the object of some fans' scorn after last year's turnover-laden playoff exit and the subject of offseason trade rumors -- has arguably never been better.
The should-be All-Star is doing such a fine job of creating offense, shutting down opponents and limiting the mistakes that characterized his return to the ice last year he's a legitimate candidate to win the Norris Trophy as the game's top defenseman, an honor only Randy Carlyle (1980-81) has earned among Penguins blue liners.