When the Penguins acquired Pascal Dupuis and Marian Hossa at the NHL trade deadline, much of the attention was paid on the latter and not the former.
Of course, that’s natural since Hossa established himself as a high-scoring winger throughout his 10 years in the NHL.
Dupuis didn’t mind that. He enjoys flying under the radar.
However, Penguins fans are finding out that Dupuis is a solid addition to a team loaded with talent.
“Pittsburgh is a great hockey market. The fans are great,” Dupuis said. “You can see that when they all show up to our practices at Southpointe. Coming from Atlanta, it wasn’t the same thing. In Minnesota, it was like that, though, and I think that’s where I play my best hockey – in a hockey environment where the people are hockey crazy. Hopefully, I will play well here.”
Dupuis had an immediate impact as he found the back of the net in his first game wearing a Penguins jersey on Feb. 28. That gave him the unique distinction of scoring a goal in his first game with all four NHL teams – Wild, Rangers, Thrashers and Penguins – he has played on during his seven-year career.
In his first NHL game on April 2, 2001, he netted a goal for the Minnesota Wild. On Feb. 15, 2007, he registered a goal for the New York Rangers after being acquired in a trade for Adam Hall, who now plays for the Penguins. After being acquired by the Atlanta Thrashers, he scored a goal in his first game with the club on March 2.
“It’s probably the excitement of playing. I don’t know, maybe I just got lucky,” he said with a smile. “My goal with the Penguins against Boston, I just got the puck and kind of missed my shot a little bit and it went low corner. It was a good way to start with a new team.”
He continues to have a positive effect on the Penguins with at least one assist in five-straight games, which is the longest assist streak of his career. He has recorded 11 points (2+9) in 11 games with the Penguins. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, he had 15 points (5+10) in 62 games with Atlanta.
Dupuis, a Quebec native, enjoyed a solid junior hockey career in the QMJHL before a broken leg hampered his chances of getting drafted.
“When I was 17, I broke my leg in my draft year and did not get drafted then. I went to Calgary as a tryout when I was 18. But, I wasn’t ready and I didn’t know what to expect there,” he said. “I went there and basically saw what I needed and went back to juniors and worked on it there. That’s pretty much what I did and I got a shot with Minnesota. I signed at training camp, went down to the minors after training camp and played three-quarters of a season down there and got called up at the end of the season and stayed there.
“I am the kind of guy who loves the game. I was playing to have fun, but getting to the NHL is always in the back of your mind. I had the skills; I just didn’t realize it until after I got here. I was a late bloomer.”
After spending almost a full season in Atlanta, Dupuis was shocked to hear he was traded.
“I did not think I was going to get traded at all. All the trade talk was about Hossa and I kept bugging him and telling him, ‘Hey buddy you’re going to get traded. Have fun in your new city,’ and all that stuff and then I am the one who ended up moving with him, so it was kind of funny,” he said with a laugh. “It was a good surprise to come here since we’re battling for first. I love the playoff atmosphere and I love playing in the playoffs. With all the skill and leadership we have in the locker room, hopefully the sky is the limit for us.”
It’s possible Dupuis could find himself on a line with Sidney Crosby and Hossa once all players are on the ice at the same time.
“Well, they are two All-Stars. It’s going to be interesting. I’ll probably find myself in front of the net tipping pucks and taking rebounds. It’ll be great,” he said. “That line should bring a lot of speed – that will be a pretty speedy line. We’ll see what’s going to happen when Sid comes back. Hopefully, everybody else will be healthy, too.”
Dupuis and Hossa were not on the same line in Atlanta since both played right wing. Dupuis has been moved to the left side in Pittsburgh.
“He’s a fast player and a good forechecker. Hopefully, the connection will be there. He’s like a runner on the ice. He doesn’t skate – he runs,” Hossa said with a laugh. “We just laugh about it. When you look at him and you see his first jump, he jumps in the air so high. It’s just funny to see that first step he has. He’s definitely a fast player, so there should be a connection.”
Indeed. Dupuis is able to utilize his speed and quickness in Pittsburgh’s system.
“It’s an offensive-oriented system. You have to keep going, going, going and force your opponent to make some mistakes instead of sitting back on your heels,” he said. “I can use my speed and I never stop moving out there, so hopefully I can create some chances for my linemates, too.”
Dupuis got an addition of his own, soon. His wife, Carole-Lyne, gave birth to the couple’s third child, Zoe. She remains in Atlanta with the couple’s other children, Maeva (4) and Kody (2).
“She was expecting any day. We’ll see how that goes. It is exciting. At the same time, it was a lot of uncertainty because you’re not sure what’s going to happen. I was hoping she’d keep the baby in for a little while,” he said with a laugh.
Nevertheless, Dupuis is happy to be in Pittsburgh and wants to help the Penguins continue to find success.
“Having all this talent here makes it easy. I think I can be the kind of guy that will elevate my game when playing with a duo like Crosby and Hossa,” he said. “With my speed, I can get open and create opportunities. We’ll see what’ll happen.”