Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis’ patience is paying off.
Dupuis, who missed all but 16 games last season while recovering from a blood clot in his lung, has been cleared to take contact.
“It’s exciting. It’s a day I’ve been waiting a long time for,” Dupuis said. “It just feels great. It feels right, the right time.”
There was no doubt that Dupuis, 36, would put in the hard work, sweat and all-out effort to make his return to the NHL. But he’s most proud of the fact that he has recovered the right way.
“The hard work has to be there no matter what. The fact that I did it the right way, I didn’t push anything, I waited,” Dupuis said. “I actually listened to the doctors for a change (laughs). The fact that I listened played a big role in me getting cleared for contact.”
Dupuis is a fiery competitor whose passion for hockey is as big as his heart. This is the same guy that wrote in The Player’s Tribune:
“I’m getting out of that press box prison. I don’t care if it takes six months or a year or two years. I will get healthy. I will play in the National Hockey League again.”
The hardest part of Dupuis’ recovery isn’t the work. It’s remaining patient and following the doctors’ protocol.
“You know me, I maybe wasn’t the easiest one to deal with, but they were awesome throughout,” Dupuis said. “They’re way smarter than I am and I have to listen to them.”
Dupuis will stick with his normal summer training routine. However, he plans on spending more time on the ice once he hits that part of training, and will add a lot more intensity heading into training camp so he “can get my timing and legs back. I’ve missed quite a bit of hockey in the last couple years.”
Dupuis has missed 109 of the last 125 games over the past two seasons, an oddity for a player that had missed only two games total in the four preceding campaigns.
Dupuis suffered a torn ACL/MCL in Ottawa on Dec. 23, 2013. A blood clot formed in his knee as a result. Dupuis took blood thinners for the clot and was able to rehab over the summer. He made his return to the ice in the Pens’ season-opener against Anaheim, scoring one goal and four points.
However, the blood clot in his knee traveled to his lung and on Nov. 19 the team announced that he would be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Dupuis took blood thinners for the next months, though he was able to train without physical contact.
“The blood clot has dissolved, and the doctors have recommended a blood thinner medication that will allow him to play,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It’s a big step forward for Pascal, and we’re all excited for him.”
It’s been a difficult two years for Dupuis and his family. There is a still a long road and many obstacles ahead for him to return to the ice. While it’s hard for him not to think about playing again, Dupuis is trying to remain as patient as possible.
“I’m a little anxious. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, but right now I have to take it one step at a time,” Dupuis said. “That’s what I’m doing over the summer with a different routine. But it’s a great time.”