No one really expected him to answer, but it was asked of Komets defenseman Guy Dupuis anyway.
Will you retire after these playoffs? he was queried.
Dupuis couldnt help but laugh.
Youre a funny man, he said, but lets take it one game a time.
Dupuis has been fielding these questions for darn near a decade – hes 40 – and hes always responded by saying its a decision thats made in the summer, with his family.
But this season saw a decline in his production. His 10 goals and 38 points were his lowest numbers since 2002, though he only played 64 games this season, fewest since 2001-02.
That the decline coincided with the Komets move to the CHL, which has typically younger and faster players than the IHL, has some fans thinking Dupuis playing days are about over.
Theres a chance, Dupuis said. Well see.
Dupuis has played 14 seasons with the Komets dating back to 1992. He helped them to IHL championships in 1993, 2008, 2009 and 2010, captaining them the last three seasons, as he totaled 45 goals and 168 points in 221 games.
The team got off to a poor start this season, losing 16 of the first 21 games, before finishing 31-27-8 and with the sixth seed in the Turner Conference. The Komets swept Bloomington in three games the first round of the playoffs and begin a best-of-five series with top-seeded, defending-champion Rapid City on Friday at South Dakota.
Dupuis has undoubtedly improved as the season has worn on – he had four goals and 14 points over his last 18 regular-season games – but he also had more help. All-star Frankie DeAngelis and two midseason acquisitions, Michael Ratchuk and Matt Krug, have taken the pressure off Dupuis having to be the go-to blue-liner in all situations, including on special teams.
If you look at our team, there arent a lot of holes, said Dupuis, who was replaced as captain by center Colin Chaulk midway through the season.
Weve got great offensive defensemen and great defensive defensemen. We dont have a lot of holes. Weve got three solid (forward) lines. Any five guys we put out there can do the job at any given time and the way that we put our effort forward in the playoffs, we should be getting the job done every night.
Against Bloomington, Dupuis had one goal and three points, and the Komets outscored the PrairieThunder 14-6.
Hes usually at his best in the postseason. The last four playoffs, he totaled 10 goals and 36 points in 46 games. Whether or not this is his last season, he wants the Komets to fare well, and he believes they will.
I just feel that when you look at (our 19) guys who work really hard and finish most of their hits, block shots, do everything to get the job done, it rejuvenates everybody, Dupuis said. If youre the fifth guy on the ice, and you see the other four guys out there giving everything theyve got and putting it on the line for the team, it just gives a boost of adrenaline and energy to everybody.