Flyers' Shelley hit with 10-game suspension
Philadelphia Flyers forward Jody Shelley has been suspended for five pre-season games, plus an additional five regular-season contests for his hit on Toronto Maple Leafs centre Darryl Boyce, vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan announced on Thursday.
The hit occurred on Wednesday night in Toronto during an exhibition game between the Leafs and Flyers. Boyce, who headed to the locker-room with a broken nose, returned to action later in the game.
The 27-year-old forward made a play for the puck behind the Flyers net when he was sent into the boards from behind by Shelley at 12:34 of the second period.
Shelley was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
"Shelley hit Boyce squarely from behind into the glass," Shanahan said. "Boyce's back was turned toward Shelley well before the contact, requiring that Shelley avoid or minimize the check. He did neither."
Through a video on NHL.com, Shanahan explained that Shelley's two suspensions from last year totalling four games —which makes him a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement — "weighed heavily in this decision."
"The video clearly shows that Boyce has his back to Shelley well before the contact," Shanahan explained on the video. "Boyce does not put himself in this position immediately prior to, or simultaneously, with the check. Shelley has time to avoid the check completely or at the very least minimize the contact.
"This is a clear violation of the boarding rule."
Prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final in June, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Shanahan would replace Colin Campbell, and would be given a mandate to place a higher importance on player safety.
Just like he did on Thursday, Shanahan will release a video explaining any future suspensions in an effort to bring transparency to the decision-making process — an area where critics often felt Campbell fell short.
Still, Leafs coach Ron Wilson doesn't expect hits like the one Shelley delivered on Boyce will be completely eliminated.
"We have laws against speeding, right? We have drunk driving laws; you can be executed if you murder somebody, [but] it doesn't stop this stuff from happening," Wilson told reporters Thursday.
"There's human nature involved, the game's very fast. And you just stop thinking for a split second, those kind of things happen."
Shelley will forfeit $67,073.15 US of his $1.2 million salary as a result of the five games he'll miss to start the year, which encompass tilts against the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.
He'll miss two pre-season games against the Detroit Red Wings, two against the Devils and one against the New York Rangers.
Shelley is eligible to return to the Flyers' lineup when they square off with the Washington Capitals on Oct. 20.
During his stellar 21-year NHL career, Shanahan was suspended by the four men who handled discipline before him, giving him a unique perspective on the sport's most unrewarding position.
"I played this sport, I understand the passion that's involved," Shanahan said last month. "I broke a lot of rules when I played and wasn't always happy when I got punished — even when I deserved it. I totally understand the passion that's involved in hockey and it's one of the reasons why hockey's a great sport."
With files from The Canadian Press