Entering the 2015-16 season, Pascal Dupuis had been a key component of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster for eight seasons—a team he won a Stanley Cup with in 2009, and one the undrafted forward truly found an identity with as an NHL regular.
Then Dupuis abruptly announced his retirement in early December after playing in just 18 games this season. The reason? Blood clots.
“When you are dealing with blood clots, this is the moment you always fear. Your body is betraying you. You can’t deny it. You can’t fight through it.”
Dupuis shares his story in a new article penned for The Players Tribune titled, “Why We Play the Game.” In the article, he discusses the difficult conversations he had with his wife about his injuries, the realizations that his friends, family and teammates were worried about him as a person—not just a player, and how he has transitioned to life after hockey and having to watch his team’s successful playoff run from the press box.
“When the team caught fire in March and April, and I saw we had a chance to win a Cup, that’s when it was really tough,” Dupuis writes. “Watching on TV was easy. Going to games and being around the guys was … well, it’s impossible to explain the feeling unless you’ve lived it.”
Thankfully, Dupuis has been able to stick around the team as a special assistant, although he shares how he feels “like a clown” wearing a suit around the rink. He still works out with the guys before games, riding the stationary bike and shooting pucks behind the training room.
“Is it all sunshine and rainbows? No, it sucks. I want to play hockey.”
As the Penguins begin their series against the San Jose Sharks tonight, Dupuis knows it will be difficult watching from the press box, and he encourages his teammates to drink in the moment and not take anything for granted.
“It never gets easier to watch. The finals will be no different. But I was fortunate enough to lift the Cup in 2009. I got to bring it home to my family in Quebec. Now I just want my teammates to be able to experience that feeling.
Give them hell, boys. You never know how many more shifts you have left.”
To read the full article on The Players Tribune, click here.