LONDON, Ontario -- Despite having one of the most difficult jobs in pro sports as an enforcer in the NHL, Flyers forward Jody Shelley prides himself on being accountable for his actions and holding his opponents accountable.
He lives life dangerously, walking the blurry line between necessary, physical play and below the belt stuff - especially with the NHL cracking down on hits to the head.
On Wednesday night, in their home-opening preseason game against Toronto, Shelley may have crossed that line with a hit on the Maple Leafs’ Darryl Boyce.
Full disclosure: I was not at the game, as I am in London, Ontario, for Thursday’s game, but I have watched the hit over and over again and it is included below for your perusal.
With 7:30 remaining in the second, Shelley barreled in on Boyce, who was playing the puck behind Ilya Bryzgalov. With Boyce’s face to the glass, Shelley pounded him against the boards, failing to really slow up. Boyce bounced off the glass and took a tumble to the ice.
“It was not a clean hit for sure,” Boyce told reporters. “It was late for sure and my [face] was to the wall, so it definitely was not a clean hit. The game moves so fast out there that sometimes you think that it wasn’t late and it was clean. That’s just the speed of the game.”
After fighting tough guy Jay Rosehill almost immediately in response, Shelley served 22 minutes worth of penalties, including a five-minute major for boarding, a 10-minute misconduct, and an automatic game misconduct.
The hit will surely be reviewed by new NHL dean of discipline Brendan Shanahan as one of his first decisions in his new role.
Boyce is said to have fractured his nose but returned to finish the game.
Rosehill said he did not know Shelley to be “a dirty player.” Shelley, as a whole, is one of the game’s most respected and honest fighters. He was suspended for two games last December by then discipline czar Colin Campbell for a hit on Boston’s Adam McQuaid.
Discipline for Shelley, 35, could include regular season games. The 11-year NHL vet was looking to start the season off on the right foot after a March facial surgery that caused him to miss the final 12 games of the season and 9 out of 11 playoff games.
“I haven’t had a chance to take it back and look at it again,” coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “Jody typically tries to play an honest game out there. I know the league is looking at incidents so the fact that there was a call and a game misconduct I’m sure it will get looked at. Hopefully nothing happens.”
COUTURIER’S CONTRACT: As we outlined in the blog on Wednesday, after top pick Sean Couturier signed an entry-level deal with the Flyers, the financials of the deal were interesting to see where he stacks up among the top picks paid from the draft.
For those interested in the cap economics, this post is for you.
Here’s how is contract breaks down, as per a league source:
The amounts are the same for each of the three years (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14): $832,500 + $92,500 for a maximum rookie salary of $925,000. He would earn $70,000 per season in the minors.
The biggest part of the deal, which now determines his salary cap hit, are his performance-based bonuses.
Couturier can earn up to $450,000 per season ($925,000 + $450,000 = a cap hit of $1.375 million) thanks to what the CBA calls “Individual ‘A’ Bonuses.”
His contract pays for:
- Goals: 20 or more
- Assists: 35 or more
- Points: 60 or more
- Points per game: 0.73 or more (minimum 42 GP)
- Plus/Minus: Among top three forwards on team (min. 42 GP)
- Ice time per game: Among top six forwards on team (min. 42 GP), max $212,500.
- All-Star Game selection
- All-Rookie Team selection
His agent did not opt to include a bonus for All-Star Game MVP.
The amount of money can vary per bonus, meaning that his agent could have structured it to pay more for goals or ice time and less for an All-Star Game selection, which is tougher to reach.
Couturier is not scheduled for any “Individual ‘B’ Bonuses,” which include payments for winning major league trophies like the Hart, Norris, Selke, Lady Byng, etc.
Now, where does that stack up?
As the No. 8 overall pick, Couturier did better than Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, who just signed a standard, max salary with no performance-based bonuses to keep his cap number at a manageable $925,000, which gives him a better chance to make the team this season as the 4th overall pick.
Jonas Brodin, the No. 10 pick in Minnesota, signed a potentially more lucrative deal that has him capping out at an average of $1.475 per year.
By comparison, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who went first overall (10 spots higher than Brodin), can earn up to $3.775 million for each of the next three seasons in Edmonton. Gabriel Landeskog, the No. 2 overall pick, was right behind him with a maximum of $3.575 million.
As we mentioned, none of this means Couturier will make the Flyers’ roster out of camp.
"Obviously, I needed a contract to make the team," Couturier said. "Now that it's done, I still have to work hard and prove myself and hopefully I stay around."
It made sense that the Flyers wanted to lock him up to a deal, as his contract can now slide (and give them another free year of watching him develop in junior) if he plays 10 games of less in the NHL this season. If not, his contract will begin now and count against this cap.
It also made perfect sense for Couturier to sign sooner rather than later. God forbid he were to have a serious injury in a preseason game without a deal, this now provides some financial insurance.
TONIGHT'S LINEUP: It has been an annual tradition for the Flyers to visit London, Ontario, for a preseason game at the Comcast-Spectacor managed John Labatt Centre, but it's a first for a close geogaphic rival.
London, situated in Western Ontario, is a 2 hour drive from Detroit, London and Buffalo. Hence, fans are divided by all three NHL teams, with the Red Wings getting the best of the share.
Funny thing is that the Flyers have hosted Toronto (twice), Atlanta, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Washington and the NY Islanders in London, but never Detroit. The Wings will be making their first-ever appearance at the JLC and their first appearance in town since 1993 at the old London Gardens. They bring with them a pretty decent lineup:
Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader – Darren Helm – Todd Bertuzzi
Gustav Nyquist – Joakim Andersson – Willie Coetzee
Tomas Jurco – Brent Raedeke – Francis Pare
Nicklas Lidstrom – Ian White
Jonathan Ericsson – Jakub Kindl
Brian Lashoff – Doug Janik
Goalies: (splitting time)
The Flyers' lineup has not yet been posted. We just know it won't include Jaromir Jagr (visa issues) and Chris Pronger (rehabbing injuries).
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
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