It's an emotional time to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Of course, being a sports fan in general is an emotional experience, but the Penguins, in particular, have had so many highs and lows throughout this season. And we've been riding them throughout the year, culminating with some of the highest of highs at this exact moment: because the Penguins are going to play in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in seven years.
There's a bittersweet tinge to all of it, though. We see him constantly in the background, constantly alongside the team, but unable to step on the ice with them as he did at the beginning of the year.
Pascal Dupuis is there with a playoff beard. Pascal Dupuis is there, sitting alongside Sidney Crosby in the locker room. Pascal Dupuis is there, embracing his teammates after a big win. Pascal Dupuis is there, while his equipment is back in a garage in Quebec.
As Dupuis details through his Players' Tribune piece, him leaving his equipment behind was an important step, because he was one-track minded. It's easy to look on from the outside and think, "Oh god, Duper, don't mess with blood clots," but when Dupuis was the one living it - as he had been living a hockey-centric life most of his life, and his entire professional career - it's not so easy to let it go, even now.
Especially now, considering how far his team has made it.
Read the piece. His experiences are heartbreaking, but hopeful - because Dupuis is a team guy, and more importantly, a Penguin, to the end.