A lot can happen in two weeks. Just ask Jody Shelley.
Eleven days ago, the 32-year-old left winger was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets, a club he had spent seven seasons with, to the San Jose Sharks. Tonight, Shelley will have the bittersweet opportunity to play against his former teammates when the Sharks play hosts to the Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion.
It’s safe to say there will be some anticipation in the building.
“I’m just excited,” explained Shelley following Friday’s morning skate. The 6-foot-4 Thompson, Manitoba native entered the locker room missing a front tooth and sporting four stitches across the bridge of his nose. This man was made for hockey.
“This is a team I know really well,” he continued. “I was part of helping this team on a day-to-day basis and they’re all friends of mine. But come game time, it’s all business.”
Although he was originally signed as a free agent by Calgary in 1998, Shelley made his debut in the NHL as a Blue Jacket after being signed on Jan. 31, 2001. He split his first two seasons between Columbus and their American Hockey League affiliate in Syracuse and then stayed with the Blue Jackets from the 2002-03 season until being traded to the Sharks on Jan. 29, almost seven years to the day of his original signing date in Columbus.
Shelley’s scenario isn’t uncommon. He’s not the first player to square off against his former team after being traded.
Center Joe Thornton
can relate. After being drafted first overall and spending eight seasons with the Boston Bruins, Thornton came to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005. When the Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophy winner returned to Boston more than a month later, he was kicked out of the game in the first period for checking Hal Gill into the boards from behind.
“It’s really tough to explain,” Thornton said about playing against his former team. “There are a lot of feelings because you have a lot of friends, a lot of good people you meet growing up and playing in a city. Hopefully, he (Shelley) gets through the game a little bit longer than I did.
“It’s fun playing against your old team mates, but he has to play against them within a week of being traded,” he added.
Defenseman Craig Rivet will know the feeling soon as well. In less than a month, he will be facing his former team, the Montreal Canadiens, at HP Pavilion for the first time. Rivet came to San Jose around last year’s trading deadline after playing 12 seasons for the Habs.
“I’m preparing the guys now,” Rivet said. “I’m telling them, ‘We have a game on March 3 that we need to win.’”
So now it’s Shelley’s turn. Even after facing a post-morning skate scrum of local and Columbus media asking him the same questions, Shelley maintained an attitude of excitement about the situation he was in. Yes, he will be playing against Rick Nash and Adam Foote, former teammates he holds in high regard. But once the puck drops, none of that matters.
“It’s one of those things where you go into the corner for a puck and you want to come out with it a little bit extra,” he said. “There will be no love on the ice. It’s one of those things, that when it’s time to go, it’s all business.”
ROSTER UPDATESDouglas Murray
has been placed on the injured reserve list, retroactive to his last game on Feb. 2, with a hip injury. A player must miss at least seven days when placed on the IR so Murray can be activated as soon as next week if he is healthy. Defenseman Kyle McLaren was cleared from the IR and will most likely return to the lineup tonight.NEXT GAME
The Sharks will continue their six-game homestand when they play hosts to the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at 7:30 (Pacific Standard Time). The game will be available on FSN Bay Area in High Definition, 98.5 KFOX FM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.