PITTSBURGH -- Hockey players commonly are creatures of habit. They like taking their game-day nap at the same time, eating the same pregame meal, going through the same locker-room ritual, relying on the same type of stick, glove or helmet.
Once they develop a signature shot or move, they frequently stay loyal to it for an entire career, save for a tweak here or a wrinkle there. It's a why-mess-with-success mentality, and adhering to a regimen can result in a long, productive career -- as long as a player doesn't get too locked into his ways.
Then there's Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, who didn't hesitate to reinvent his game in his early 30s, or at the very time when many players are peaking -- or are peeking from the outside looking in, wondering where their careers went.
Dupuis was viewed as a strong penalty killer and complementary scorer, but not a top-line player when he arrived in Pittsburgh in the Marian Hossa trade late in the 2007-08 season. He found a niche with one of the NHL's most talented teams, totaling 12 goals and 16 assists during the Stanley Cup-winning season in 2008-09, but he failed to get a point in 16 playoff games and sometimes was a healthy scratch by coach Dan Bylsma.
Going to training camp a few months later, his first since Bylsma took over in February 2009, Dupuis -- at age 30 -- knew he was at a critical stage of his career. He was convinced he could play a bigger role, even given the Penguins' wealth of scoring talent, but he also understood it would require him to change his game.