After a strong showing at training camp for the 2010-11 season, French-Canadian Philippe Dupuis found himself for the first time in his career on an NHL roster for opening night. Perhaps it was a bit discouraging, though, because he watched that first game of the season from the press box. Or, it could be that it was inspiring. Dupuis was in the line up for the following game and has left little doubt that it’s where he belongs. A versatile center with grit and playmaking ability, the 25-year-old brings a solid and reliable game to a team that’s suffered from injuries and instability much of the year.
Prior to being drafted in 2003 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dupuis skated for the Hull Olympiques, a member of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In his first season with the Olympiques (2001-2002), he played in 67 regular season games, recording a modest 21 points. However, he found his scoring touch in the playoffs: 6 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. The following season, his offensive contributions continued as he notched 56 points (22g, 34a) in 68 games. The 2002-2003 season would prove to be very successful for the QMJHL team. They would go on to the finals for the Memorial Cup that year, as well as defeat the Halifax Mooseheads to win the QMJHL Championships (Presidents Cup).
During the 2003-2004 season, after Dupuis was selected 104th overall by Columbus, he maintained his scoring pace and again kicked it up during the playoffs, helping the newly renamed Gatineau Olympiques to the finals of the Memorial Cup once again. They also won the Presidents Cup for the 2nd consecutive year, this time defeating the Moncton Wildcats. Dupuis spent the 2004-2005 season playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies during which time his offensive production soared. In 62 regular season games, he amassed an impressive 84 points (34g, 50a); in the playoffs, he scored 5 goals and 3 assists in 10 games. He signed a 3-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets that summer.
That would be the only year Dupuis would spend with the Huskies, however, as the following season he began playing for the team he beat only two seasons earlier: the Moncton Wildcats. He proved to be an incredible addition to the team by posting 32 goals and 76 assists for 108 points in 56 regular season games. He continues to hold the Wildcats record for the most assists scored in one season. He also contributed heavily in the playoffs with 32 points in only 19 games. Yet again, he helped his team make it into the finals for the Memorial Cup and become QMJHL champions with an assist on the game-winning-goal.
In the 2006-2007 season, Dupuis split his time between the ECHL (Dayton Bombers) and the AHL (Syracuse Crunch). He put up a combined 27 points in 59 games, but once more found his scoring touch in the post-season with the Bombers, maintaining nearly a point-per-game pace. The forward started the 2007-2008 season with the Crunch (Columbus’ AHL affiliate) before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche on January 22 where he reported to Lake Erie for the remainder of the year. He recorded 8 points (5g, 3a) in 17 games.
The 2008-2009 season was a strong one for Dupuis. In his 67 games with the Lake Erie Monsters, he scored a team-leading 46 points. His 29 assists were also tops for the team, as was his +11 rating. His stellar play led to his NHL debut as the Avalanche recalled him for a match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 12th. Dupuis would see a total of 7 more NHL games that season.
He spent most of the 2009-2010 season with the Monsters where he put up decent numbers. However, that season will most likely be remembered - at least by the player - for the Avalanche’s game on November 4, 2009 against the Phoenix Coyotes. It was that night when Philippe Dupuis scored his first NHL point, an assist on Milan Hejduk’s wrist shot with just 24 seconds left in the third, securing a 4-1 win.
Making the 2010-2011 Avalanche straight out of training camp was no easy task. With an amazing array of talent at center, Dupuis had to fight for his spot. He also had to change his game, becoming more of a grinder so that he could be successful on the 4th line. By rising to that challenge and becoming a major force in that role, Dupuis has shown how skilled he really is. Although he has not put up the kind of points he has in the past (3g, 9a in 48 games), his value can be seen in other numbers. He’s a +4, has 81 hits (which ties him with Ryan Wilson for 2nd on the team), is second in points among Avalanche rookies, and is one of 5 Avs players to score a short-handed goal. In fact, that goal was his first ever in the NHL. It came on November 6, 2010, vs. Dallas, a night in which he had a career-high 3 points and was named 1st star of the game.
Philippe Dupuis is a hard-working, dedicated player that brings heart and depth to the Colorado Avalanche. He contributes both on the ice and off, and his presence will be a valuable asset in post-season play. He is also generous with his time outside of hockey; in Cleveland, he helped bring Christmas to families in need, and in Denver, he’s working with children to help them stay safe and healthy. With all that he has to offer, the Avs would do well to keep Dupuis around for quite a while.