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Blog: Dupuis Comeback Begins in St. Paul

After nine-month layoff, ex-Wild F takes first steps in return to lineup against Minnesota.

Pascal Dupuis (MHM Photo / Jordan Doffing) 

After nine-month layoff, ex-Wild F takes first steps in return to lineup against Minnesota.

SAINT PAUL—Former Minnesota Wild forward Pascal Dupuis was in the lineup for Pittsburgh on Monday night which is significant in that it was his first game action since Dec. 23 in Ottawa. That’s the night Senators’ defenseman Marc Methot hip-checked Sidney Crosby into the leg of his favorite right winger on just the second shift of the game for the two.

The Penguins’ 4-1 loss to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center was a significant step toward working his way back to the right side of Crosby and Dupuis said the injured knee did not change his approach at all.

“I went out there with the mindset of playing the same exact game that I play usually and I think I did,” Dupuis said after playing 16:28 in his return. “No hesitation, I went to the same areas of the ice and battled the same way.”

Dupuis, 34, who is entering year two of a four-year deal he signed with the Penguins on July 2, 2013, is now five months removed from undergoing reconstructive knee surgery on Feb. 12 to repair a torn ACL and MCL. The six-week delay between the injury and the surgery was an attempt to allow the MCL to heal naturally rather than have to repair it surgically.

The MCL did not cooperate, however, and both ligaments had to be reconstructed to the tune of an estimated 6-8 month recovery process which overlaps training camp. Dupuis was cleared for contact on Sept. 25 but was held out of Saturday’s home game against Columbus.

He said the knee held up well in its first true test of the season.

“It didn’t feel too bad. Obviously [there were] a couple plays here and there I’d like to get back differently,” Dupuis said. “It’s about timing but I’m definitely happy with the way it went out there.”

The 6-foot-1, 205 lb Laval, Quebec native played four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) but went undrafted despite scoring 80 goals and 177 points over his final two seasons. The expansion Minnesota Wild signed Dupuis as a free agent on Aug.  18, 2000 and he went on to score 67 goals among his 141 points in 334 games over all or part of six seasons in Minnesota.

Dupuis said he never felt the urge to catch a glimpse of himself on the arena’s new HD scoreboard in his most recent return to St. Paul. But that doesn’t mean he never saw his image on the giant screen.

“The only two times I saw myself up there was when I was sitting in the box and the camera got on me.”

Wild reduces training camp roster to 30 players

Prior to Monday’s game, Minnesota announced it had pared its training camp roster from 39 down to 32 players. The team assigned three players—F Brett Bulmer, D Guillaume Gelinas and F Tyler Graovac—to its AHL affiliate in Iowa and placed D Jonathon Blum, D Justin Falk and F Joe Rechliz on waivers with the intention of sending them to Iowa once they clear as expected.

In addition, goaltender Brandon Whitney was returned to his junior team, Victoriaville of the QMJHL.

Following Minnesota’s 4-1 win, the Wild assigned F Zach Phillips to the Iowa Wild and placed former Gopher Jordan Schroeder on waivers for the purpose of doing the same.

Minnesota Hockey Magazine Executive Editor Brian Halverson is a former member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. His work has been published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Miami Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Hartford Courant, Dallas Morning News and ESPN.com.

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