The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the red-hot Boston Bruins during the 2023 NHL Winter Classic. They were without star defenseman Kris Letang, who's gone through a lot this season.

However, there was another, more heartbreaking reason the Penguins defenseman missed the game. Letang missed the game because of the unfortunate passing of his father.

“I know some of you are aware that while we were here in Boston, Kris' dad passed away, so he has returned to Montreal to be with his family,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan told the media. “And we just want to express our sincere and deepest sympathy for him and his family during this difficult time.”

Letang has faced some difficulties this season. He suffered the second stroke of his career back in late November, causing him to miss time. Recently, he missed the Penguins' loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday with a lower-body injury.

The Penguins defenseman is one of their most important players. He leads the team in average ice time (24:32) and paces all Pittsburgh defensemen with 16 points on the season.

“It's definitely not something that you want for your teammate,” Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph said. “Health is always a priority in peoples' lives. I think it's important that he takes care of himself and takes time with his family as well. … We have to stay positive with him. We're all here for him.”

It is not immediately clear when Letang can return to the Penguins lineup. However, that doesn't matter right now. Hopefully, Letang is able to find peace during this incredibly difficult time.