While it wasn’t the first test for new NHL discipline czar/vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, it was the one where he showed his mettle.
On Thursday evening, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jody Shelley was suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season for his questionable hit on Toronto’s Derek Boyce during the second period of Wednesday’s 4-2 preseason loss.
It was a ruling based on the new protocols surrounding Rule 48, which aims to penalize the severity of the impact of boarding infractions, rather than the bodily location of the hit.
Shelley was given a major for boarding and a game misconduct for his efforts, and will be forced to cough up $67,073.15 in salary. That money is automatically forwarded to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. The 35-year-old Manitoba native reportedly declined to attend an in-person meeting in Manhattan to discuss the issue.
“Shelley hit Boyce squarely from behind into the glass. Boyce’s back was turned toward Shelley well before the contact, requiring that Shelley avoid or minimize the check. He did neither.
“In addition, Shelley’s two suspensions last season weighed heavily in this decision.”
That’s a total of 10 games, beginning with Thursday’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings in London, Ontario. Shelley won’t be eligible to return to action until October 20, when the Orange and Black host the Washington Capitals.
“We are disappointed with the length of the suspension but we will accept the league’s decision and move on,” said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
Earlier in the day, Shanahan levied a multi-game ban to Calgary’s Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond for another violation of the new terms of Rule 48.
I have to say he got it right on both accounts. While I dispute the ultimate effects of a rule downshifted to eliminate an automatic major, I can’t argue with the judgements — both of the referee to assess a major and game misconduct to Shelley, and with Shanahan’s decision on both players.
Shelley is not only a repeat offender, but a two-time repeat offender last season alone.
Leblond (Letourneau) doesn’t figure to be much of an impact player with the Flames. But for Shelley, in the second season of his three-year deal, it should be enough to give him pause. No matter if he’s a good guy in the room, if he keeps this up, his spot on the roster is up for grabs, no question.
Well, it ain’t exactly the missile job that Steve Downie memorably unleashed on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond four years ago, but rules is rules.