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Pascal Dupuis is Penguins nominee for Masterton trophy, and he should win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins nominate the only player that they should to be their choice for the NHL's Masterton trophy

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pascal Dupuis is the Penguins choice for the Masterton trophy. From Penguins.com

Dupuis returned to the lineup for opening night the following season in October. But the blood clot returned and traveled to his lung. So after 16 games played, Dupuis’ 2014-15 season came to an abrupt end in November.

Once again, Dupuis spent months in the gym rehabbing and training, and in hospitals meeting with doctors to monitor his condition. Following a long year, Dupuis once again made a dramatic return for opening night in October for the current season.

Dupuis played with the blood clot last season, knowing it would end his year. But this season he promised his family that if he didn’t feel right about anything that he would alert the medical staff. On Nov. 6, Dupuis "didn’t feel right," and the medical staff, erring on the side of caution, held him out of that evening’s game in Edmonton.

Though the blood clot hadn’t returned, Dupuis had another scare at San Jose on Dec. 1. Again, it was not related to the blood clot. But at that time, Dupuis had to face the fact that his body could no longer handle the demands of a constant battery of tests.

"I was starting to be hesitant on the ice, going through games and not trying to ignore the signs," Dupuis said. "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.

Dupuis was pushing his body to the limit, but wisely (and thankfully) didn't go to the point of having something scary happen.

It would be difficult to imagine anything embodying being more dedicated to the sport, but you never know with NHL league voting. Last year they gave the award to Devan Dubnyk (on the strength of playing really well in Minnesota after playing really poorly in Edmonton) over Kris Letang, who returned from a freaking stroke, so who knows.

And, it's not as if retirement has ended Dupuis' involvement with the Pens. If anything, this is the toughest time of year for him as he stays around the team and offers what support he can, all the while enduring the knowledge that it should be him going out there with his teammates.

Even without playing, Dupuis is exemplifying the qualities of the Masterton. After all, most people might not realize is how painful it is for Dupuis to be around, but not be a part of it.

"It doesn’t help coming here and being part of the daily routine," he said, "showing up to the rink and seeing my teammates from three months ago putting on equipment and going on the ice. When I’m home I’m completely fine. But as soon as I come here, that becomes the hardest part."

Dupuis’ continued commitment to the Pens is another reason the local hockey writers honored him with the Masterton nomination.

"Trying to comeback until you physically can’t anymore, and then sticking around, that’s a painful process for him," Rossi said. "You can tell talking to Pascal that it’s a very hard thing for him to be around this team. He wants to play so badly. But his dedication to this team and his teammates, to help nurture the young guys and be there for the veterans, if that’s not dedication, if that’s not perseverance, if that’s not sportsmanship, then I don’t know what is."