Flyers enforcer Shelley suspended for 10 games

Posted: September 23, 2011

LONDON, Ontario - From the moment Jody Shelley picked up the phone for his discipline hearing with the NHL yesterday - something he had done countless times before in his career - he could already tell this "judicial process" would be different.

Especially with new discipline czar Brendan Shanahan on the other end of the phone.

For Shelley, you see, yesterday's hearing was a perfect storm.

The Flyers' enforcer was not even supposed to be behind his own net on Wednesday night when he crunched Darryl Boyce. He called off two other linemates in pursuit. He thought Boyce would keep moving along the boards.

Shelley just happened to be facing the Maple Leafs, hockey's most visible franchise, in a rare televised preseason game. And his obviously dangerous hit just happened to be the first test under Shanahan's reign.

Even after being slapped with a 10-game suspension by Shanahan, a punishment undoubtedly used as a tone-setting message for the rest of the league, Shelley was surprised. His 10-game ban includes the remainder of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season.

"I was definitely shocked," Shelley said via telephone. "I was really ready to start the season and put in a strong camp after missing time with my [facial] injury at the end of last season. This will put that on hold."

According to Shanahan, who broke down the ruling in a league-released Internet video, Shelley's previous disciplinary history "weighed heavily in the decision." This was his fifth career suspension. As a repeat offender, Shelley will sacrifice $67,073.15 in pay over the five regular-season games.

"Shelley hit Boyce squarely from behind into the glass," Shanahan explained. "Boyce's back was turned toward Shelley well before the contact, requiring that Shelley avoid or minimize the check."

Former dean of discipline Colin Campbell is all for Shanahan's use of video to help make his rulings clear to general managers, media members and fans alike.

"The position needed some fresh blood, some new eyes," Campbell told the Daily News last night as he watched the Flyers' game in London. "Brendan is a good replacement, he's been suspended by at least three of us [disciplinarians], and he's been hanging around us for the last couple of years.

"It's a good, healthy change. It's a new culture."

Campbell, 58, stepped down as the principal disciplinarian on June 1 after years spent as a media whipping boy in a truly thankless role. He has been an aide and confidant to Shanahan.

"We talked quite a bit over the summer," Campbell said. "On a few long flights, we talked about the personalities of general managers. When you're suspending a player, it's never a nice thing to have to tell or explain to a manager. They're all competitive."

Of course, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren issued a statement saying he disagreed with the length of Shelley's suspension.

Campbell said he now will spend more time "studying the game and its trends," something he didn't have much time to do when he was forced to dole out suspensions daily. He will spend most of the season in Toronto's infamous "War Room," analyzing live footage from across the league and overseeing construction of a newer, more state-of-the-art facility in the same building.

Now out of the limelight but still involved, Campbell believes Shanahan's use of video explanation will go a long way toward changing fans' attitudes about disciplinary actions.

"We talked about it last year," Campbell said. "[Commissioner] Gary Bettman and I talked about it. It's a sensitive part, because no one always agrees with what you said in print, and it's a lot easier to control what is printed [in a statement]. It's healthy. We are a media-hungry group now, so I think that's a forward move in the game."

Slap shots

The Flyers confirmed a report that they cannot sign Czech-born prospect Tomas Hyka to an entry-level contract, even though he is a free agent, because of a CBA stipulation since the 18-year-old went undrafted last June but did not play in North America last season . . . Sergei Bobrovsky will start tonight in Detroit.

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