Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis will no longer play hockey because of a medical condition related to blood clots, Dupuis and the Penguins announced Tuesday.
Dupuis felt pain in his chest during a Dec. 1 game against the San Jose Sharks, one of several games he either left early or did not play this season for precautionary reasons. He was cleared and returned to play on back-to-back nights against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks last weekend but said he was already considering retirement.
"We've been talking about it for a little while on this road trip, since the San Jose game. It made it more clear in my head that it was weighing on me, my wife, kids, my teammates," Dupuis told the Penguins website.
"One hundred percent, it was definitely all about [my family]. If all this was on me or if I'd taken a selfish approach to this, I'd probably still be playing."
PENGUINS' DUPUIS STEPS AWAY
Dupuis was playing this season taking blood thinners. He was diagnosed with blood clots in January 2014 shortly after sustaining torn ligaments in his knee and missed the remainder of the 2014-15 season after a blood clot in his lung was discovered in November. He was cleared to work out and take contact in June 2015.
"Despite playing on a medical protocol that has worked for other players in the NHL, we feel that the risk of Pascal playing with his condition and the side effects of the tests to monitor him are just not in the best interest of his long-term health," Penguins team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas said.
Dupuis spoke about the aftermath of coming out of the game against the Sharks and the mental toll the health concerns took.
"Nothing was there, but it's going through all the testing, the radiation every time I get tested, CAT scan and everything. I don't think I should have my body go through this again," he said.
The Penguins will place Dupuis, 36, on long-term injured reserve and continue to pay his salary. He is in the third year of a four-year contract with an average annual salary of $3.75 million.
"I feel very badly for Pascal," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "I've never seen a man more determined to play and more determined to help his team. Unfortunately, we've reached the point where it's not in the best interest of his health to allow him to do that anymore.
"It's tough to watch something like this, especially with a terrific guy like Dupuis and what he's done for the team. When you sit back and think about it, he's doing it for the right reasons. You have to keep his priorities straight and he's got his priorities straight."
Dupuis made the NHL as an undrafted player, scoring a goal in his first game for the Minnesota Wild on April 2, 2001. He became a regular with the Wild over the following four-plus seasons, scoring 20 goals and 48 points during the 2002-03 season, when Minnesota reached the Western Conference Final.
Dupuis was traded twice during the 2006-07 season, from the Wild to the New York Rangers, and after six games from the Rangers to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Dupuis played 79 games with the Thrashers before he was dealt again prior to the 2008 NHL Trade Deadline, this time to the Penguins in a trade that also involved forward Marian Hossa. Dupuis helped Pittsburgh reach the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, where it lost in six games to the Detroit Red Wings, and win the Stanley Cup in 2009 in a seven-game series against Detroit.
"He will leave a big hole from what he does for the team," Rutherford said. "From the off-ice in the dressing room to being on the bench between periods, all those things. Plus, all the things he does on the ice. I'm not going to be able to find the same player as he is. But we're going to have to replace him."
A frequent linemate of Sidney Crosby during his time with the Penguins, Dupuis set NHL career highs in 2011-12 with 25 goals and 59 points. He averaged 18 goals and 40 points in his first five full seasons in Pittsburgh before his final three seasons were curtailed by injuries and the blood clots.
"We're going to miss him a lot," Crosby said. "He's a great guy, great teammate. I know he'll have a hard time staying away from the rink, so hopefully we'll see lots of him."
Dupuis said he wants to continue to be around the Penguins.
"My main goal is to help this team as much as I can to win the Stanley Cup, but it's definitely not going to be on the ice," he said.
Dupuis finishes with 190 goals and 409 points in 871 regular-season games, and 19 goals and 44 points in 97 Stanley Cup Playoff games.