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Should we give Jody Shelley a chance?

Since his signing here last week, there's been a lot of heat directed towards Jody Shelley. It's understandable, of course, for two reasons. One, we remember his two goals against us in games 81 and 82 last year. We made fun of him, called him a girl, etc. He was a Ranger. He deserved it.

But more so, the heat he's been getting is for his contract. He's a tough guy, an agitator, an enforcer. He's not going to score goals for us and he's going to be a fourth liner, a $1.1 million for three seasons is a lot of money to give to a guy like that. Then again, Shelley will be making less than another fourth liner on this same Flyers team -- fan favorite Ian Laperriere.

We know Lappy as the warrior on this Flyers team, and because of what he does and how he plays the game, we would never complain about the $1.16 million he counts against the salary cap each year. Money well spent, right?

I'll be honest. Before the Flyers signed Shelley last week, I didn't really know much about him, and I'm sure most Flyers fans are in the same boat. Just another tough guy in the NHL, right? Well, from what I've read in the last few days, I've learned a lot about what people think of Jody Shelley. I've seen a lot of similarities between him and a guy like Ian Laperriere.

For starters, we know Shelley will be a fourth line grinder on the Flyers next season. He's going to be on that line with Blair Betts and Laperriere, more than likely. So let's get a sense of what he's going to bring to that unit, directly from the man himself. Here's an interview Shelley did with CSN California last November when he was playing with the San Jose Sharks.

Being a presence, he says, whether that's on or off the ice. Laperriere isn't a guy that goes out an intimidates people. He fights when he has to, but it's not in a policing type of way. But other than that, Lappy does exactly what Shelley is describing above. He's more useful on the bench and in the locker room than he is on the ice most of the time, but that doesn't mean he can't bring something useful to the ice as well.

And by all accounts, Shelley isn't a bad hockey player. Talking with Joe Fortunato of Blueshirt Banter on Rink Side Radio last night, he vouched for Shelley as a defensively-responsible grinder who leaves it all on the ice. He's not a guy that we're going to dread seeing on the ice, says Joe.

Shelley can play a regular shift in the NHL on a fourth line and be an effective member of that line, in addition to being the enforcer that the Flyers have lost in Arron Asham. I mean, let's be honest here. Lappy fights, but he doesn't police. Cote won't crack the roster, and without Shelley, the fighting falls on the shoulders of Dan Carcillo, should he return to the Flyers. That's uh, not preferred.

This quote from Sharks GM Doug Wilson on the day Shelley was traded away to the Rangers back in February speaks volumes of what Shelley brings to a team, I think. From the San Jose Mercury News:

"We have a pool of players going forward that Jody Shelley has had an impact on and that will be felt for years," Wilson said.

Outside of the fact that he's a solid hockey player with a defined role that will only help the team, Shelley is a genuinely great guy. Take this reaction from Fear The Fin after the trade, for example:

We would also be remiss not to mention the work he did with the late Ryan Salmons, a Blue Jackets fan who succumbed to cancer on May 1st, 2009. Shelley was a professional athlete who committed his time to helping his community; in a day and age where the public is bombarded with stories of lavish lifestyles and immature behavior, it is refreshing to see a player who went the extra mile to acknowledge the common fan. He was, and still is, a class act.

Shelley also hosts the Jody Shelley Golf Fore Health in his hometown of Yarmouth every summer. The foundation raises money for medical equipment used in hospitals.

If none of that sells you, consider Colton Orr's stupid antics whenever the Flyers are his opponent. You know, things like taking a run at a Flyer goalie and getting baited into several minutes of penalty time. Shelley, perhaps, is the league leader in pissing off Colton Orr.

I'm not saying we have to love the guy immediately, and I'm certainly not saying that there's no chance of regretting the signing. But I am asking for people to give the guy a chance to show up at camp and put on an orange uniform. After that happens, then we can pass judgment.