If you thought that the easiest way to make friends with the fans in Philadelphia as a member of the Flyers was to punch players on the opposing team in the face you’d be completely right. For newest Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley, he’s going above and beyond the call of duty to endear himself to fans of his newest team.
According to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly, Shelley went so far as to root for the Flyers in the playoffs last season. You know, back when Shelley was a member of the New York Rangers. The same Rangers that got bounced out of the playoffs in the last game of the season against the Flyers in a shootout.
“There wasn’t anything said [afterward],” Shelley recalled of the trip home. “We got on the train and went back. It’s amazing. The last game of the year, you’re playing and playing and then you’re done.
“Then you know you got five months off and it’s like, ‘are you kidding me?’ Especially in that situation, with the shootout.
“We had the best goalie as far as shootouts. We just wanted to get to the shootout. We thought when we got into the shootout, we were good. A few of us said that to each other.”
That’s all in the past now, and Shelley gets to see how the other side lives in Philadelphia, a city where the fans embrace their fighters more than they do in other NHL cities. You’d better believe that for as much of an appreciator of the NHL as Shelley is he’s excited about joining the Flyers and adding to their pugilistic legacy.
Thoughtful and observing, he was the first player, and he’s a newcomer, to not only notice all the pictures of past Flyers now hanging in the dressing room at Skate Zone, but to remark on them.
“Look at the history of this team,” Shelley said. “It’s got the reputation pride with the emblem, that you read about, and you talk about and you walk around … look at the walls and it’s pretty clear what they’re about.
“It’s about work ethic. It’s pride. There’s a lot of pictures of guys with no teeth and smiling. That’s what it’s about. That’s hockey.
“These pictures might not mean much to a lot of people, but you can tell that everyone in the room notices them and knows what they mean. They’re here for a reason.”
While Shelley isn’t a guy that’s going to fill the net, that’s not his role either. He’s a heads-up player despite being more famous for using his fists than his stick. As long as he’s keeping his head about him in that manner, he’ll be as worthwhile to Flyers fans as a 50-goal scorer and just as popular for it.
Shelley has been a popular guy wherever he’s been. From his days in the AHL in Syracuse to the NHL with Columbus, San Jose, and a short stop with the Rangers he’s been a favorite of the media and the fans alike. Putting him in this sort of role in Philadelphia is only going to turn him into the next folk hero of eastern Pennsylvania.