A lot of fans are probably asking themselves this very same question. So why was Jody Shelley dealt...why now...why deal him for a sixth-round pick in 2009?
Here's my take on it:
Jody Shelley was a fine Blue Jacket. He's been here for 7 years. He was great in the community. He worked his butt off in games and in practice. He was a leader in the locker room. The fans loved him. He was a voice that was listened to by everyone on and off the ice. He had that leadership and respect about him even if he didn't play a lot of nights.
Jody's role is an enforcer. In other words his job is to police the ice and protect the skill players. The bottom line though is that post lockout, the role of an enforcer has been drastically reduced and its impacted guys like Shelley. Prior the the NHL lockout Jody Shelley had 87 fights over 4 years. Post lockout he's had a total of 32 fights over 3 years. His role, and many roles like his, have been greatly dimished.
There just isn't enough room for guys whose primary talent is fisticuffs. You have to be able to play now in the league. You have to be able to roll 4 lines during the regular season and if you have an on ice liability like a Shelley, that really limits the flexibility in your lineup.
Couple that with the emergence of a guy like Jared Boll, who while not a heavy weight, can take care of a lot of the dirty business on the ice..... and with tough guys with more skill like Tommy Sestito and Derek Dorsette in the minors, it made Jody expendable.
...and to GM Scott Howson's credit, he's giving Jody an opportunity to still play in this league with San Jose as its obvious Jody is no longer part of the CBJ plans. It was the right move for the Jackets and No. 45.
That said, dealing Shelley is a bit of risk. He didn't make much money in NHL terms but to move a popular locker room guy like Shelley could upset the locker room. Especially when the team is moving in the right direction on the ice.
This won't be a popular move amongst the CBJ faithful as its easy to get attached to the lunch pale guys like Shelley. To that I say this is a move to improve the team. Its a move that had to be made to turn another page in the evolution of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It similar to the Tyler Wright deal in that sense.
A word of advice I have to Jacket fans is not to get too attached to any name of this roster. The moves that are being made now and will be made in the future will be names we've grown used to over the years. Its not personal. Its not to slap CBJ fans in the face. These moves are made as stepping stones to build a winner....and at the end of the day, that's what we want - a winner.
Jody Shelley played his first game as a Blue Jacket. He scored his first goal, his first assist, had his first NHL fight here. He married a woman from Ohio and spilt a lot of blood and weathered a lot of down years in a CBJ sweater. He was loved in the community, was fan favorite and was a great guy to talk to. He will forever be a Blue Jacket.
Thank you and good luck Jody. You wore and represented the jersey and city with class every day of your seven year Jacket career. I wish you all the best in the future whether it be with San Jose or antoher team.
When the day comes and you hang em up for the last time, Columbus will be here welcoming a true Blue Jacket back home.