CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Although humbled and honored, former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis was also a little sad Sunday when talking about being a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy this season.
"It's one of those awards that you don't wish to get," said Dupuis, who was announced as a finalist along with Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello on Sunday.
There is merit to what Dupuis is saying.
The Masterton Trophy, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game, has recently gone to players who have been through a personal hardship or had to overcome a significant downturn in their careers.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk won it last season after getting over a tumultuous time that saw him nearly out of the sport altogether.
Rangers center Dominic Moore won it the year before after he was able to successfully resume his career after losing his wife to cancer. Former Wild goalie Josh Harding won it in 2013 after playing despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Dupuis, 37, fits into the category. He had to retire on Dec. 8 because of a medical condition related to blood clots. Dupuis played 18 games when he was on blood thinners this season before the doctors told him it was in his best interest to retire if he wanted to maintain his long-term health.
Video: Pascal Dupuis was named one of three finalists
He was originally diagnosed with a blood clot in January 2014 after tearing ligaments in his knee. He went on blood thinners for six months, returned for the start of the 2014-15 season, but was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung in November 2014 and missed the rest of the season.
Dupuis was cleared in June 2015 and returned for the start of the season, but experienced several incidents during games that were too scary for him to continue playing. He said he is still coming to grips with being forced into retirement.
"It's a work in progress," Dupuis said. "At first, I tried to stay away as much as I could just because every time I came here it was actually painful. So I tried to stay away from it. Now it's playoff time, I know this team can do great things, and if one little detail that I can bring can help this team win, that's why I'm here every day."
Dupuis assists the Penguins coaches and players on a daily basis. He watches games from the press box, is around the team at practices and has been traveling in the playoffs.
"The fact that they wanted to keep me around, they wanted to be as involved as I can, means a lot to me," Dupuis said. "It shows how this team, this staff, this organization is obviously behind its players. I'm not a player anymore. I'm a kind of between guy, right in the middle, right on the fence now, and it's great that they want me around as much."
Dupuis watches games with Penguins defenseman development coach Sergei Gonchar. He goes down to the dressing room between periods and won't hesitate to talk to the coaches and players about what he's seen and how they can adjust. He said nobody has to ask him for advice.
"I'm kind of loud and obnoxious at times, so it'll come from me, definitely," Dupuis said.
Being involved doesn't make it any easier for him to be a spectator, especially now.
"At this time of year, it's hardest," Dupuis said. "You want to be part of the battles with the guys. I still thought I could play a little bit earlier this year but right now it's out of the question. I couldn't even keep up in practice. It's definitely hard to watch."