Unheralded Rookie Makes Early Impact

By Chris Kitching

When the Minnesota Wild signed left-wing Pascal Dupuis as a free agent on
September 18, 2000, they knew they were getting a hard-nosed winger who
would one day provide them with the two-way defensive style they apply.

Little did they know, he would deliver so soon.

In his rookie National Hockey League season, Dupuis has adjusted comfortably
to the NHL level after spending the majority of last season in the
now-defunct International Hockey League with the Cleveland Lumberjacks.
Dupuis, who saw action in four games with Minnesota a season ago, recorded
19 goals and 24 assists with Cleveland.

Heading into training camp in September, the 22-year-old’s chances of making
the team were seen by some as very slim. The Wild had an abundance of depth
on the left wing, but with a potential season ending concussion suffered by
Cam Stewart during the pre-season and several players shifting positions,
room on the roster opened up for Dupuis and he has taken advantage of a
golden opportunity.

Dupuis, one of two rookies with the Wild, now patrols the left wing on the
Wild’s first line with eleven-year veteran Jim Dowd and sophomore sensation
Marian Gaborik, giving Dupuis the opportunity to play his gritty style while
contributing on the scoresheet at the same time. Dupuis is making $350,000
this season, and is ranked 11th in rookie scoring with ten goals and ten
assists in 58 games played, as of March 6.

The Laval, Que. native split his junior career between the Shawinigan
Cataractes and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League from 1996-2000, potting 104 goals and 142 assists in 229 games,
remaining untouched in the NHL’s free entry draft.

Aside from helping out the team offensively, Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire
has used Dupuis to shut down the opposing team’s top scorers. During
Tuesday’s night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, Dupuis and Dowd
were assigned the task of covering Olympic gold medalist Eric Lindros.

The pair shut down Lindros through 60 minutes of regulation, however, the
duo could not contain him during the 4-on-4 overtime period, as Lindros set
up Brian Leetch’s game-winner with 1:16 left on the clock.

With the strong two-way performances he’s had this season, Dupuis is looking
as though he’s in line for a long stay in the National Hockey League, much
to the delight of the Wild who took a chance on the left-wing who has turned
out to be one of the team’s minimal bright spots this season.