Dupuis feels right at home, stays put to prove his point

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Right winger Pascal Dupuis' time with the Penguins, which dates to February 2008, largely has been defined by his role as star center Sidney Crosby's linemate. Those two and left winger Chris Kunitz always seem to end up together.

So, when Dupuis jumped at a chance to re-sign with the Penguins this summer rather than explore free agency, did he receive any token of gratitude from Crosby, perhaps some flowers?

Dupuis figures it more appropriately would have gone the other way.

"I should have sent him some. Or a box of chocolates or something," Dupuis, grinning widely, said Wednesday.

Dupuis was one of just three players at an informal Penguins workout at Southpointe a week before training camp starts.

Unlike winger James Neal and defenseman Rob Scuderi, Dupuis didn't skate. He worked out off the ice, including running the steps in the stands wearing a weighted vest.

For Dupuis, it feels good to be back in familiar surroundings, getting ready to start another season with the Penguins and, most likely, with Crosby and Kunitz as linemates.

Dupuis is 34, but he had 20 goals, 38 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season and no doubt could have parlayed that into something of a bidding war for his services had he become an unrestricted free agent in July. Instead, he re-signed with the Penguins for four years at a tidy $3.75 million per season.

"I wanted to come back," Dupuis said. "So did my wife and kids. Everybody surrounding me kept telling me, 'Yes, it's a great situation for you.'

"I knew I wanted to come back and play with what I believe is the best team in the NHL for another four years."

The Penguins also signed Kunitz to an extension through 2016-17, so the team's top line could remain intact for some time.

Dupuis doesn't yearn for some sort of catchy name for it.

"I guess it's 'Crosby's line' when the coach calls it on the bench, so it's going to remain that way, I think," he said.

The Penguins have mixed and matched a little on their top two lines, particularly at times when Crosby or fellow star center Evgeni Malkin has been injured, but Dupuis figured his place with Crosby and Kunitz became further solidified late last season when coach Dan Bylsma eventually stuck with that combination after the Penguins brought in a couple of high-profile wingers as rental players.

"It showed last year that it seems to be the line that Dan and the coaching staff want to keep together," Dupuis said. "Even though they brought in [Jarome] Iginla, [Brenden] Morrow, they kept our line together.

"It was a big boost of confidence for me to see that they're bringing in a Hall of Famer in Jarome Iginla -- a guy that is a proven goal-scorer, a leader -- and they kept me there with Sid and Kunitz."

Bound for London (Ontario)

A bus loaded with Penguins prospects made its way to London, Ontario, for a rookie tournament, beginning with a game today against a lineup from the Ottawa Senators.

"It's an opportunity for some of the younger prospects to come in and make an impression on, really, our whole staff," said John Hynes, coach of American Hockey League affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. "It's one of the few times in the year when you have all of your management, all of your coaches, all of your scouts all in one place.

"[It's helpful] to have our prospects be able to compete against players of similar experience, and it gives them a good chance to play against live competition, see how we do drills before they get into the main NHL training camp."

Young goalies sign up

Two goaltenders on the roster for the rookie tournament, Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray, have agreed to three-year, entry-level contracts that will go into effect when they turn pro.

Jarry, 18, was selected by the Penguins in the second round of the NHL draft this year. Murray, 19, was a third-round pick in 2012.

Buckley joins staff

Jarry and Murray, as well as other young goaltenders in the Penguins organization, are likely to get to know Mike Buckley well.

Buckley, 36, is the club's new goaltender development coach and will work with prospects at that position.

He has worked as a goaltending coach or consultant with the University of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-Amherst, USA Hockey, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dynamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, and as president and head instructor at Goaltending Development Services, where he has trained NHL, minor league and college goalies in the summer.

Buckley replaces Mike Bales, who was promoted to goaltending coach for the Penguins at the NHL level.


For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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