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Dupuis talks future with Penguins, silencing doubters

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Pascal Dupuis' time with the Pittsburgh Penguins might not be over.

Dupuis announced the end to his playing career in the midst of Pittsburgh's 12-game road trip Dec. 8 because of health issues related to his history of blood clots. Six days later, Dupuis said he would be interested in a role within the Penguins organization and plans to discuss that possibility with general manager Jim Rutherford sometime in the coming weeks.

"It's hard for me to say right now," Dupuis said. "It's still fresh. I still don't know where I'm at. I definitely would want to stay here in Pittsburgh and try to help this team win. Obviously, I'm just finishing right now. I don't know what position or what they need, but we'll see."

Dupuis spent the past weekend with his family. He didn't know how difficult it would be to face them, but said it felt natural.

"It was easier than I thought it would be, just because it feels right," Dupuis said. "It was definitely a nice moment to get to see them and get to chat with my wife face-to-face. It was definitely way easier than I thought it would be."

Now that he is content with his decision, Dupuis said if a role with the Penguins isn't in his future, he could see himself joining the media.

"Not yet. I don't know, we'll see," Dupuis said. "I don't know exactly how to express myself to be a part of you guys yet. So we'll see. That's something that definitely interests me."

Reflecting on his career, particularly his nine seasons in Pittsburgh, Dupuis said he always strived to prove doubters wrong. Dupuis was considered a throw-in in a trade that sent forward Marian Hossa to the Penguins from the Atlanta Thrashers for forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft pick on Feb. 26, 2008.

Hossa signed with the Detroit Red Wings during the ensuing offseason; Dupuis remained in Pittsburgh.

"Basically I came in here, people thought I was just carrying Marian Hossa's sticks around, his equipment," Dupuis said. "And I ended up being a piece of a puzzle that made this team successful since I've been here."

Dupuis became one of the Penguins' more consistent top-six wings, primarily playing alongside center Sidney Crosby. Skating with Crosby and right wing Chris Kunitz in 2012-13, Dupuis scored 20 goals and 38 points in the shortened 48-game season.

"As far as proving people wrong, I think I take pride in doing that. People always second-guessing the player that was playing with [Crosby]," Dupuis said. "If it wasn't me, it was somebody else. People always think they're never good enough to play with him. If I asked him [about playing with Dupuis], I don't think he complained too much about it.

"Hopefully, the rest of his career will be better and people can say, 'Yeah, he's better now that he's played with different players,' but that's the way I approach it. Definitely try to prove people wrong and have a little chip on your shoulder."

Dupuis' production dipped since returning from a blood clot in his lung that ended his 2014-15 season after 16 games. He scored two goals and four points in 18 games this season, and said he began to hesitate while on the ice.

"We've been through so much," Dupuis said. "[The Penguins] know I've been through a lot, but every guy in this locker room has had issues and has had little bumps in the road they've had to go through as well. It's a tight locker room. Those core guys that have been here awhile obviously are the ones that you care for, but it's such a good group that everybody that's coming in feels so welcomed that it creates a great locker room.

"You feel like you're letting your teammates down by not keeping going."

The Penguins have struggled as a whole this season and will play under new coach Mike Sullivan for the first time Monday, against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center. Dupuis said each player has to find motivation if Pittsburgh is going to find success.

"You have to find, in life and everything you do, you have to find something that will light a fire in you, that will get you to the next level, to everything you ever wanted to accomplish in life," Dupuis said. "That's what these guys have to find. They have to have a reason to find a goal, find something they care enough for to make them push as hard as they can every day."

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