Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis will no longer play hockey because of a medical condition related to blood clots (the release is here and the story is here). He and general manager Jim Rutherford spoke to the media about the announcement on Tuesday. Here are their remarks.
PASCAL DUPUIS Knew there was going to be a couple adjustments, couple little bumps in the road, but obviously it wasn’t a perfect protocol for me so that’s why we have made that decision.
How much did your family have to do with this, Duper? One hundred percent of it. It’s definitely all about them. If all this was on me or if I would have taken a selfish approach to this, I probably would still be playing.
Did the medical part of this turn out to be more difficult than you expected? Not that I was expecting. But I went into this at 100 percent. I gave myself the chance to play and to be in the lineup and to go through that protocol and to try it and to see what it was going to bring me, and obviously I wasn’t thinking about all the testing and all the stuff that was required to be able to play.
The two times you were sidelined briefly – did you expect that was going to happen and that it was going to happen so frequently, so early? No, not at all. We knew that maybe I was going to have to miss games on a blocked shot or a cut or something, but not experiencing what I did when I missed those two games. Definitely not, no.
When did you make the final decision? We’ve been talking about it for a little while on this road trip. When I had to leave after the second period in the San Jose game there, it made it more clear in my head that it was definitely something that was weighing on me, my wife, my kids, the team and my teammates.
What happened in the second period? Just didn’t feel good. Had a little bit of chest pain that I had to get checked. So obviously got checked, nothing was there, but going through all the testing, radiation, CAT scan, I don't feel like I should have my body go through this again.
Do the doctors feel that not playing hockey, you’ll be able to put this behind you on the right medication? We’ll have to re-visit (that). Obviously I’ll have to change medication. I’ll have to re-adapt to a different lifestyle, obviously. But yeah, you know what, the protocol was in place for me to play hockey and I was cleared to play hockey on that protocol. And there’s different drugs, different stuff out there that would allow me to definitely live a normal life.
I know how much you love this organization; how much you love the game. I know you haven’t had much time to think about the future maybe, but do you want to stick around in some capacity? I definitely would like to. I didn’t play last year and I was around as much as they wanted to, as much as I could. Definitely a different situation, I don’t see a timeline there for me to try to skate before the team every day or to try to come back, to push to come back as far as a hockey player right now. My main goal is to try to help this team as much as I can to definitely win the Stanley Cup, but it’s definitely not going to be on the ice.
How did your teammates react to the news, Pascal? It was very emotional for me. Me being around and in and out of the lineup, there’s always questions, always concerns from not only my close family and my wife and kids, but friends back home and every time I’d get out of a game, there’d be concerns. But the guys on the bench and in the locker room were obviously concerned about how I was feeling. I don’t want to be a distraction.
How hard is it to have a conversation like that with a player like Pascal, after how hard he has worked over the past couple years? Yeah, that was difficult. We've talked through this going back to last year and we all talked about the risks. But we had a lot more conversation on this road trip. Him and I met (Monday) afternoon and he had made up his mind at that point. It’s difficult, you are not going to find a much more determined man than he is and bring what he brings to a team. But I’m sure we’ll figure something out in the future that he’ll still have an impact here.
As the health scares occurred over the last month or so, did you see this possibly coming or is this something where your discussions had not gotten to that point yet? Our discussions hadn’t got to that point yet, but in my mind I could see it coming. It's always been his decision, which it should have been. But personally, in the offseason I felt he was taking a big risk by trying to play. He's very determined, he wanted to help the team, he wanted to try it. He gave it his best shot, but medically he can’t do it anymore.
I’m sure you've seen the game end for players before they wanted it to many times, but for someone with his fortitude, it must be a sad day for you guys. Yeah, it is. It’s tough to watch something like this, especially (with) such a terrific guy like 'Duper' and what he's done for this team. But when you sit back and think about it, he's doing it for the right reasons. You have to keep your priorities straight and he's got his priorities straight. But he is still going to help this team in other ways.
On the hockey side of things, you talked a lot last year about how important he was to this team, how valuable he was to the team. How do you feel about the void that's being left and how it can be filled? I haven’t got to that point. I’m more concerned about the person right now. We'll figure this out going forward. He will leave a big hole from what he does for the team. From the off-ice things, to the dressing room, to being on the bench in between periods, all those things plus what he does on the ice – I’m not going to be able to find the same player as he is, but obviously we are going to have to replace him.