Pascal Dupuis (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
Veteran Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis has announced his career is over due to a medical condition related to blood clots. Dupuis, 36, has been playing on blood thinners following a blood clot that entered his lungs and forced him to miss 71 games in 2014-15. In a statement, Dupuis said his family was his first priority
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis, 36, has officially announced that he will no longer play hockey due to a medical condition related to blood clots that have sidelined him for more than 70 games in the past two seasons.
Dupuis announced Tuesday via a statement on the Penguins website that he would be stepping away from the game, effective immediately. After battling the blood clot issue for most of last season, an ailment that caused him to miss 71 games, Dupuis returned to the ice this season and was taking blood thinners in order to manage the condition. However, after recent scares, including one on Dec. 1 against the San Jose Sharks, Dupuis said he has to put his family first and make the tough choice to call it a career.
"When I left the San Jose game (on Dec. 1) after the second period it made it more clear in my head that it was something that was weighing on me, my wife, my kids, the team and my teammates,” Dupuis told PittsburghPenguins.com’s Sam Kasan. “I had a little bit of chest pain that I had to get 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.”
The injury to Dupuis originally occurred in a game against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 23, 2013. Dupuis suffered a torn ACL and MCL on a play in which Sidney Crosby fell onto his knee following a hit from Senators blueliner Marc Methot, the Penguins said. A blood clot formed during Dupuis rehabilitation, and the clot later travelled to Dupuis’ lungs.
According to Penguins team doctor, Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, it wouldn’t have been good for Dupuis’ “long-term health” to continue playing.
“Despite playing on a medical protocol that has worked for other players in the NHL, we feel that the risk of Pascal playing with his condition and the side effects of the tests to monitor him are just not in the best interest of his long-term health,” Vyas said in a statement.
However, Dupuis acknowledged that his decision to walk away from the game had less to do with his long-term health and more to do with his family. Dupuis said that, “if all this was on me or if I was taking a selfish approach, I would probably still be playing.”
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he believed the decision was always up to Dupuis and whether he was comfortable with returning to the ice, but Rutherford added he felt Dupuis was taking “a big risk.” Rutherford supported Dupuis’ decision to return to the lineup to begin the season, though, and was again supportive Tuesday when Dupuis announced his career had come to an end.
"It's tough to watch something like this, especially with a terrific guy like Dupuis and what he's done for the team," Rutherford told Kasan. "When you sit back and think about it, he's doing it for the right reasons. You have to keep his priorities straight and he's got his priorities straight.”
Rutherford cited Dupuis’ talent and his leadership qualities, saying that the Penguins will have a big hole to fill without the veteran winger. Rutherford told Kasan that he wasn’t going to be able to find one player who could bring all the same things to the table as Dupuis.
Dupuis told teammates Tuesday that he was leaving the game and said it was an emotional moment for him.
“It was very difficult for me to make this decision to have to step away from the game,” Dupuis said. “My wife and four children have always been my first priority, and playing with my condition has become a constant worry for all of us. I want to thank my teammates and the Penguins organization for their unwavering support during this difficult time.”
Dupuis, a three-time 20-goal scorer, ends his career having scored 190 goals and 409 points in 871 career games with Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. Dupuis made it to the NHL as an undrafted free agent. He was a member of the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup championship team.
Dupuis has two years remaining on a four-year, $15-million deal he signed in 2013, and the Penguins will continue to pay him.