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Penguins' Dupuis likely done for rest of season

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis plays against the Bruins Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis plays against the Bruins Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis celebrates his goal during the first period against the Flames on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis celebrates his goal during the first period against the Flames on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Getty Images - The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis is helped off the ice by teammates Matt Niskanen (left) and Chris Kunitz after injuring his knee against the Senators on Dec. 23, 2013, in Ottawa, Ontario. Dupuis suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis is helped off the ice by teammates Matt Niskanen (left) and Chris Kunitz after injuring his knee against the Senators on Dec. 23, 2013, in Ottawa, Ontario. Dupuis suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Sidney Crosby isn't happy about the hit that ended right wing Pascal Dupuis' season.

Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot threw a low hip check Monday, making contact with Crosby's thigh, a couple of inches above his knee.

Crosby was slightly hobbled following the hit, missing a shift. His momentum from the hit carried Crosby into Dupuis, and the collision severed Dupuis' ACL.

“I didn't like it,” Crosby said Friday. “I'm on the smaller side of the big D-men I play against. As a small guy, if you go low on a big guy, it's frowned upon. It's not considered a clean hit. For a big guy to hit that low — it was on the outside of my thigh — is tough. And he only got one leg. If my leg stays on the ice, my knee is gone. There's no point in making that hit.”

Methot is 6-foot-3, and Crosby is 5-foot-11.

— Josh Yohe

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
 

RALEIGH, N.C. — One of the most irreplaceable Penguins is done for the season.

Right wing Pascal Dupuis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will undergo surgery in approximately two weeks, according to coach Dan Bylsma.

Replacing Dupuis' versatility will be an arduous task for general manager Ray Shero, should he attempt to land a forward before the March 6 trade deadline.

“The thing about Duper is that he literally does everything well,” said Carolina center and former teammate Jordan Staal. “They are going to miss him a ton.”

Don't look for the Penguins to stand pat if it is determined that a top-six forward could help them at the trade deadline.

“If this injury happens after the trade deadline,” Shero said, “it's much more of a problem.”

Shero isn't in a rush to make a move. He pointed out that Beau Bennett — a player with top-six pedigree, among a host of other players — will return to the lineup soon.

But Shero has been aggressive at the trade deadline in the past and might have a need for a forward that wasn't previously expected.

“The good news is that there's still half a season to play,” Shero said. “If someone can help us improve, then great.”

Shero acknowledged that replacing Dupuis won't be easy.

“It shows you how far he's come with us,” Shero said. “It's going to be a loss in the short term, maybe in the long term. At least at some point we do get players back.”

Dupuis' responsibilities for the Penguins are significant:

• He is Sidney Crosby's right wing. Crosby prefers Dupuis by his side so much that he opted to play with him instead of Jarome Iginla last season.

• Dupuis has flourished on all four lines while with the Penguins, and in a pinch, can play all three forward positions as well as the point on the power play.

• Dupuis arguably is the Penguins' best penalty killer.

• He ranks fourth among Penguins forwards with 69 hits and plays with tremendous speed, something that is crucial in Bylsma's system.

• Dupuis is a respected and vocal figure in the locker room.

Bylsma said although there is no timetable for Dupuis' return, it's “likely he might miss the rest of the season.”

Players typically require close to a year to fully recover from the surgery. Dupuis, who turns 35 in April, relies heavily on his legs to produce the speed that has made him a fixture on Crosby's line.

He signed a four-year, $15 million deal — far less than what he could have received on the open market — to remain with the Penguins in July.

“Filling his shoes won't be easy,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “Those are big shoes.”

Forward Joe Vitale replaced Dupuis alongside Crosby on Friday against Carolina.

No one on the Penguins roster can fill so many roles.

“It's going to be tough without him,” Crosby said. “He does so many things.”

It was a particularly serious locker room on Friday in Raleigh as the Penguins seemed a bit rattled by Dupuis' injury news.

The league's No. 2-ranked penalty killing unit will miss Dupuis, whose speed, energy and shot-blocking annually helps the Penguins produce one of the league's best percentages.

“He's one of the best,” right wing Craig Adams said. “Obviously, it won't be easy to replace that.”

The Penguins' team concept will be tested in Dupuis' absence.

“Our success has been based on team play,” Bylsma said. “Our calling card has been work ethic and team play.”

The Penguins might need to rely on those attributes more than ever.

“Losing a guy like that will really hurt them,” Staal said. “Everything he does, he does well. And I know Sid loves playing with him.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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