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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It's not often in the world of sports that teams are forthcoming with information about injured players.
This is especially true in the National Hockey League, where the terms "upper-body injury" and "lower-body injury" are as common as faceoffs to start play.
Today, an intimate article written by Pascal Dupuis was published on "The Players' Tribune."
The article is as honest and forthcoming as any you'll read.
Dupuis opens up about his mindset from the knee injury that ended his 2013-14 season through two blood clots.
The most recent diagnosis came back in November, when it was announced he would miss at least another six months.
Dupuis spoke about the importance of his family and taking the appropriate actions to ensure his health.
He was visibly emotional and several of his teammates showed up to the press conference in support.
At that time, team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas announced Dupuis was treated for another blood clot in January of 2014 as well.
Dupuis' problems began back in December of 2013. In a game against the Ottawa Senators, Dupuis suffered a torn ACL, MCL and PCL when Sidney Crosby landed on his leg after being checked.
After experiencing chest pain and coughing fits for days, Dupuis finally decided to get checked out. A trip to the emergency room confirmed the blood clot and he was immediately put on blood thinners.
"The doctor explained that I had a pulmonary embolism. One of the branches of my lung was clogged. The clot probably started in my calf when my leg was immobilized on the flight back from Ottawa. My lung wasn't getting blood supply and was slowly dying. The words just kind of whizzed by me. I went to grab my clothes when the doc explained that I had to stay in the hospital for a few days," Dupuis said.
Dupuis would eventually be cleared to return to the ice in time for training camp and suited up for opening night.
He appeared in 16 games for the Penguins this season and racked up 11 points (six goals, five assists).
Everything seemed to be back to normal, but then things took a drastic turn.
During a practice ahead of a Nov. 6 game with the Winnipeg Jets, Dupuis felt a sharp pain again. He tried to convince himself that it wasn't a second blood clot.
"I'm hunched over and guys are looking me at me. I lied and said I must have pulled a muscle on a shot. Call me stupid but I didn't say anything to anyone about it. Not my teammates. Not my trainers. Not my wife. The hockey player in me — he's saying it's nothing. He's thinking, You just battled through eight months of rehab for your knee. Everyone was second-guessing you. You're 35. This is it," he said.
Finishing a practice is one thing, but what he did next shows you just how dedicated Dupuis is to the sport and how much it means to him.
"I would not recommend this to anyone but the truth is that I played five more NHL games without ⅓ of a lung."
He did his best to battle through it, but it took one look at his family after returning from a road trip to know what the next course of action would be.
"I was lying to myself. We were on the road. I was away from my family, around the guys doing what I love. It was easy to be in denial. Then the road trip ended and we returned to Pittsburgh. When I walked in the door and saw my wife and kids again, that was it," he said.
It was off to the hospital for more tests, which confirmed what he had known all along.
Since the November press conference, Dupuis has pitched in any way he can. He helps with the scouting and attends all the team meetings, but the hockey player in him can't stand being in the press box.
Despite everything he has gone through, Dupuis is absolutely determined to get back on the ice.
"I'm 35. I know I don't have much time left. But I'm getting out of that press box prison. I don't care if it takes six months or a year or two years. I will get healthy. I will play in the National Hockey League again."
Given how hard the undrafted free agent had to work to break into the league and then make a name for himself, it's hard to doubt him.
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