SHAWINIGAN- Pascal Dupuis is about to strike a pose in front of the wall adjacent to the Shawinigan Cataractes locker room. At the same time, Olivier Nadeau and Charles Beaudoin took the same corridor heading towards the Center Gervais Auto exit.
“Come with me guys! “Launches Dupuis immediately, joined by the two somewhat confused attackers, but probably accustomed to the energetic personality of their assistant coach.
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This is the role played by the former Pittsburgh Penguins since he decided to get involved full-time with the team. Shareholder and member of the staff for a few years, he went down behind the bench a few weeks before the start of the QMJHL playoffs.
« It’s a lot of fun to say that my title has changed from hockey operations assistant to director of smiles in the locker room, » he said with a laugh. In any case, I say that I am president. They prefer to say that I am a director. »
And the president takes his mission very seriously, as we could see a few hours before what could turn out to be a very special evening in the city of energy on Thursday.
The Cataractes will have the chance to lift the President Cup for the first time in their history in front of their fans. Daniel Renaud’s squad took a serious option on the title by forging a 3-0 series lead against the Charlottetown Islanders.
« It’s quite incredible the vibe he brings around the team, » commented captain Mavrik Bourque. All the advice he gives us off the rink, in everyday life… These are details that seem silly, but that make us better.
“Any guy who has the chance to rub shoulders with a former NHLer who won the Stanley Cup benefits to the fullest. That’s what we’re doing right now. »
Players also know to be on their toes if they don’t show up to the arena in their best spirits. It’s never long before Dupuis takes matters into his own hands.
“If someone comes to the arena with their head down one morning, they’re definitely going to get pecked by him,” explained Bourque. He finds a way to make everyone in the room smile. »
Even though he has two Stanley Cup rings, and played alongside Sidney Crosby, the 43-year-old leaves the strategic component to Renaud and the other training assistants. He gives his point of view, of course, but he especially wanted to act as a mentor for young people during this long elimination journey.
“I know what they are going through, I know the routine, explained the former striker. I know they go through ups and downs. My role is more to support them in all situations and to try to solve small problems. If you play a lot, how do you recover? If you play less, how do you stay ready? It’s details like that. »
No less than 22 years after he played his last game in a Cataractes uniform, Dupuis could live a very special moment with the fans who have seen him grow up – as a coach, this time.
« It’s so different, » he observed. It’s a long process that has brought us here. We’ve had ups and downs all year. We had injuries, the COVID… We cannot be a winning team or an aspiring team without going through these stages.
“As a player, you are part of that. You can pass, score a goal or block a shot. As a coach, you help the kids progress and prepare for that moment. It is also important. »
Dupuis played in Shawinigan for two and a half seasons, and his number 16 was retired by the organization in 2017. If anyone knows the passion of Cataractes fans, it’s him. Without looking too far, he can easily imagine what a conquest would mean for the city.
« People love their team, they have a really solid attachment to the Cataractes, » he concluded. Guys feel it. We know the fans are behind us. They have been behind the team for 53 years. »