#10: Pascal Dupuis
Stats with the Pens starting on 01/01/2010: 324 games played, 86 goals, 106 assists, 192 points
Ranks: 10th most in games played, 9th in goals, 7th in assists, 8th most in points
Interesting stat: during this decade Dupuis had double the number of short handed goals (8) as he did power play goals (4)
Seasons with Pittsburgh: 2008-16
Best season in Pittsburgh: 2012-13; 20G+18A for 38P in 48GP
Before Sidney Crosby broke his jaw, Pascal Dupuis had 17 goals in the first 35 games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Or as we wrote in the immediate aftermath of the Jarome Iginla trade, Crosby + Dupuis was just too functional to breakup, even with the addition of a future hall of famer in Iginla.
Dupuis’ new-found scoring touch aside, it’s the things that don’t show up on the scoreboard that have led coach Dan Bylsma to say the first line of Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis won’t be split up, even with the addition of front-line player Jarome Iginla. Dupuis is a forechecking terror, and all the time he’s spent in Bylsma’s system has made him very comfortable and positionally about the perfect player. Beyond that the image of Dupuis using his speed and tenacity recently to terrorize and force turnovers out of no less than Zdeno Chara stands out. Good things happen when Dupuis is on the ice, and they happen because he works hard and gets to where he should be.
Despite the increased scoring, Bylsma doesn’t even give Dupuis any power play time because he is too valuable to the PK. Dupuis minutes aren’t managed, but his usage is skewed towards defensive responsibility for a traditional “1st line” winger
Unfortunately, it all went down the tubes for the Pens that spring, though not for the effort and contributions of Dupuis who chipped in a team-high seven goals in the 15 playoff games that spring.
Favorite Moment: Picking teeth out of your own mouth is pretty good
A bittersweet goodbye: Sadly for Dupuis, who found a way to buck the trends and odds by continually getting better as his career went along — having by far the best seasons in his age 31 and age 32 seasons from 2011-13 — the end of his playing days caught up to him quickly. He tore an ACL in his knee in December 2013. That ended up being a monumental moment in his career in retrospect since the damage from the incident included a blood clot condition that would ultimately end his competitive playing days by the end of calendar 2015. Dupuis had the difficult task of being on a team that he really wasn’t a part of any longer and watching them use his salary cap space and roster spot in part to pickup a similar player in Carl Hagelin who ended up performing a role that Dupuis otherwise might have in the run for the Pens’ 2016 Stanley Cup. So while Dupuis accomplished the life-long goal of having his name engraved on the Cup
Still, Dupuis provided years of stability and steady play for the Penguins. He was a simple, honest, hard-working player that was reliable on a team full of stars that often seemed to be too flashy and try to take too many shortcuts in the post-Cup Bylsma days.
Dupuis’ career was filled with ironies. To start that Dupuis — only included in the Marian Hossa trade because Atlanta needed to shed a contract to balance their team out — ended up not only catching on but being the player with the most lasting success of anyone involved in the trade (Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and all the draft picks Atlanta got didn’t amount to much, Hossa left Pittsburgh to free agency). And then to catch on and really become a solid NHL caliber player, even if prone to inflated statistics due to playing with prime-age Crosby, Dupuis had the wheels and brain to keep up and support that line defensively. Then, the sad irony of weathering the Bylsma/Mike Johnston storm only to be medically shutdown for the blood clot condition literally just as a coach in Mike Sullivan takes over where Dupuis likely would have thrived.
But when you think back on the 2010s and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, the Chris Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis line is likely one of the first few specific lines you would think of, and that’s helped to leave a lasting memory and legacy to make Pascal Dupuis a part of the top ten Penguin players of this decade.