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Blue Jackets' Shelley, a force of nature

by Marcie Garcia

There are colorful adjectives used to describe the likes of Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Jody Shelley. Fans love the big, physical forward whose battle scars tell of his commitment to the motto of taking one for the team. Shelley is considered one of the game's great enforcers, and wears the stitches, bruises and mended fractures that prove it.

Jody Shelley during the golf fundraiser for the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation, July 2007.

When his name is announced throughout Nationwide Arena, the cheers are as loud as those for star forwards Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov. The jeers in the visiting arena, however, are just as deafening because Shelley is the player you love to have on your team, and the player you love to hate if he’s not.

But the Blue Jackets’ fan favorite, one of the most personable and friendly on the team, is anything but the hardened, intimidating force that is perceived on the ice. Instead, Shelley likes to spend his free time in the outdoors, which brings him back to his childhood days in Nova Scotia, where he and his father often would go hunting.

“We used to go hunting when I was a kid for rabbits and deer and all that kind of stuff,” Shelley said. “I’ve been lucky to have lived all over Canada, in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, where hunting is a way of life, so I love the outdoor stuff.”

Shelley, 31, was born in Thompson, Manitoba, and grew up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He’s made his home in Columbus since first signing with the team as a free agent in August 2000. If there was any question of what Shelley would bring to the table in his first and only game with the Blue Jackets in the 2000-01 season, Shelley answered with 10 minutes in penalties. Today, Shelley has totaled a stupendous 981 penalty minutes in just 352 NHL games played with the team.

He certainly has found his niche on the ice, and off it, too.

“Since I’ve been in Ohio, I’ve gone deer hunting a couple times,” says Shelley, who hunts using a shotgun as opposed to the bow and arrow. “I tried with a bow, but have never hit anything. Bow (hunting) is more of an art because you have to call them in to get the deer pretty close and I haven’t figured that out yet. I think they smell me a mile away.

“I’m a rookie out there,” he said. “I go with these guys who call the deer right out with scent control and whatnot, and lay them down. It’s pretty incredible. I’ve only gotten one deer in Ohio, but as a kid, we got one a year.”

Though Shelley considers himself a “rookie” in hunting, he certainly knows the lay of the land when it comes to the evening’s dinner menu. He says he leaves his wife, Mandy, out of the kitchen, saying “She’d never cook any of that stuff for me.”

“Nova Scotia has great lobster; British Columbia will give you great salmon fishing, and outdoor anything, and in Newfoundland you have great moose hunting,” he says. “It’s unbelievable meat, almost like a steak or a roast. You just have to try it.”

And like Shelley’s approach on the ice when measuring up opponents, he also realizes the dangers of the great outdoors, but says for the most part it’s not the animals you have to worry about.

“When I went fishing in Nova Scotia, we’d fish on the lake and hike across to the next lake and so on,” says Shelley. “You have to watch that you don’t roll your ankle or do something else to yourself. You can come across some scary stuff, but mostly it’s what you do to yourself out there that you need to worry about if you’re not careful.”

One other adventure that brings Shelley back home to Yarmouth every summer is the Jody Shelley Golf Fore Health Tournament and Silent Auction, a charitable initiative in support of renal dialysis at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. In its third outing last July, the charity raised $29,000, despite rainy weather. Shelley says it’s a great way to give back to the community.

It seems Shelley is more than a 6-foot-4, 222-pound wall on skates. And despite his dwindling ice time – he’s played just three games this season – he’s demonstrated on the ice, and in his many adventures off, that he’s a force to be reckoned with.

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