Pascal Dupuis addressed the local Pittsburgh media for the first time on Monday afternoon since announcing his decision to no longer play hockey a week ago.
At the conclusion of the 10-minute media conference, as Dupuis was leaving the podium, the media gave him a thunderous ovation.
That’s really all you need to know about Pascal Dupuis.
Dupuis, 36, is beloved among the media for his cooperation and character. But he is even more beloved in the locker room.
Dupuis had to go through rigorous medical treatments to return to the ice this season, battling through a blood clot that cost him nearly all of the 2014-15 season.
And yet, with everything that he went through, his biggest regret was for his teammates.
“That’s the tougher part, feeling like you’re letting your teammates down by not keeping going,” he said. “Talking to everybody, everybody was telling me that I made the right decision, I was worried for you. It definitely makes it easier when I hear that from everybody.”
Dupuis played in only 16 games last year before the blood clot sidelined him. He was on blood thinners for six months, but continued to work out hoping to make a return in the postseason. During that time, he was a regular presence in the locker room and in the press box.
Dupuis hasn’t decided what he will do now that he will no longer play hockey. But he would like to remain around the Penguins in some capacity.
“I definitely want to stay in Pittsburgh and try to help this team win,” he said. “I don’t know what position would be needed. We’ll have a talk with (general manager) Jim (Rutherford) the next week or so to really define a role for me.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Dupuis was able to overcome the blood clot and appear in 18 games this season. His career is that of the underdog shocking the world.
“As far as proving people wrong, I take pride in doing that,” said Dupuis, who broke into the NHL as an undrafted free agent. “That’s the way I approach it. Try to prove people wrong and have a chip on your shoulder because of that.”
In fact, when he arrived in Pittsburgh in a trade in 2008 that included Marian Hossa, most people viewed Dupuis as the “throw in” on the deal. But Dupuis remained a Penguin for the rest of his career and helped them win the Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
“People thought I was just here to carry Hossa’s sticks and equipment,” Dupuis joked. “I ended up being a piece of the puzzle that made this team successful.”
Dupuis played 871 NHL games in 15 seasons with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, NY Rangers and Atlanta. He scored 190 goals and 409 points. But he wasn’t the same player in the final weeks of his career.
Dupuis had two health scares. He was pulled from the team’s contest in Edmonton on Nov. 6 after having pain in his knee. A battery of medical tests found no presence of a blood clot. Dupuis was then held out of the Pens’ third period in San Jose on Dec. 1 with chest pains.
The incidents caused made Dupuis a different player.
“The last couple of weeks were a little different for me as a hockey player,” he said. “I was starting to be hesitant on the ice, going through games and not trying to ignore the signs. That’s what you’re used to doing. You block a shot, you get hurt, yes it hurts but you ignore it and play through everything.
“Since having these little incidents there I was trying to listen to my body. You can’t play hockey that way.”
Dupuis will spend some time with his family over the next few days and enjoy their company before deciding his future.
One option on the table: Dupuis could also join the media throng that applauded him.
“Not yet,” he joked. “We’ll see.”