Jody Shelley Could Lose His Job as Philadelphia Flyers Enforcer to Tom Sestito

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Jody Shelley Could Lose His Job as Philadelphia Flyers Enforcer to Tom Sestito
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The Broad Street Bullies were being pushed around.

According to HockeyFights.com, in the 2009-2010 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers totaled 77 fighting majors, just one short of the NHL lead.

With Dan Carcillo, Arron Asham and Ian Laperriere, the Flyers were a tough team.

Colton Orr of the Toronto Maple Leafs did not care.

On January 6, 2010 Orr went after captain Mike Richards. In the same game, he embarrassed Carcillo. Later in the season on March 7, Orr ran over goalie Michael Leighton.

Finally, on April 6 Asham attempted to stand up to Orr. He didn't do so well.

It was clear that the NHL's toughest team needed a heavyweight enforcer. So, during that offseason Jody Shelley was signed to a three-year, $3.3 million contract.

Shelley had proven his worth over several years of fighting in the NHL. Just months earlier, he knocked out Orr. Shelley was clearly capable of doing the job that Carcillo and Asham couldn't.

During his first season with the Flyers, Shelley did little to impress with his gloves off.

Deryk Engelland of the Pittsburgh Penguins bloodied him. Matt Kassian of the Minnesota Wild beat him.

Regardless, Shelley's presence was a clear factor on the ice.

Shelley took a puck to the face late in the season during practice, causing a broken orbital bone.

Shelley was scratched in the playoffs because of the injury.

Without him, wannabe tough guy of the Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic, took advantage of the situation and sucker-punched rookie Zac Rinaldo.

Shelley was dressed the next game; the Bruins took no cheap shots.

In a game against the Ottawa Senators on January 20, 2011 Chris Neil tackled Philadelphia's leading scorer, Claude Giroux, punching him twice on the ice.

Later in the game, Shelley gave Neil a beating.

Shelley understands his job and is capable of doing it well, but at times the player carrying a $1.1 million cap hit has created issues for himself and the Flyers.

In a game against the Bruins on December 11, 2010 Shelley boarded Adam McQuaid, resulting in a two-game suspension. The Flyers were without their enforcer for two games.

Later that month on December 28, Shelley sucker-punched Andrew Alberts, resulting in another two-game suspension.

Now, in the Flyers' second preseason game of 2011, Shelley boarded Darryl Boyce, resulting in a 10-game suspension.

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The Flyers will now be without their enforcer for the remainder of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season.

Regardless of whether or not Shelley's suspensions are justified, Brendan Shanahan will be scrutinizing every questionable action of his.

Philadelphia lacks a player who can fill Shelley's role adequately. Despite his mediocre fight performance in a Flyers uniform, there are few players in the league that surpass his presence as an enforcer.

The best candidate to replace Shelley is 24-year-old Tom Sestito, an Adirondack Phantom who has seen playing time with the Flyers this preseason.

During the first preseason game, Sestito gave a beating to Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs after the two became involved in a shoving match.

Sestito is 6'5" and weighs 225 pounds. Despite this size, he hasn't had a particularly impressive fight resume to this point in his career.

Sestito is younger and cheaper than Shelley. He is a faster skater and a better player. In 57 AHL games last season, Sestito totaled 35 points. He is much less of a liability on the ice.

The only aspect that keeps Shelley in the lineup over Sestito is the pure enforcing ability. If Sestito wants an NHL job, Shelley's 10-game suspension is his opportunity.

The Flyers play the New York Rangers on September 26. Sestito could challenge Mike Rupp or Brandon Prust to prove himself as a capable fighter.

The Flyers' last two preseason games are against the New Jersey Devils, a team with both Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen.

Should Sestito prove himself in a fight against any of these players, coach Peter Laviolette would have a suitable replacement for Shelley.

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