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Jackets to face familiar foe

A fighter in hockey is like a first girlfriend:  Even when they’re gone, you always remember them. 

That’s why Jody Shelley, despite only averaging two goals per year, is still revered in Columbus. 

Shelley was the first enforcer that the Jackets ever had, and for the skilled players in the game (the Nash’s, the Klesla’s, the Brassards), there’s nothing that brings more confidence than knowing that a cheap shot by the opposition will not go unpunished. 

For six-and-a-half years, that retribution, brought by Shelley, was on behalf of Columbus. But tonight, when the Jackets visit the San Jose Sharks, it will be against the Jackets.

In the middle of the 2007 season, Shelley was traded to San Jose.  For the time that he was with Columbus, Shelley received nothing but love from the fans — a fight involving him received the same cheers as a Nash goal did. 

Rarely did he lose these fights, but he did always drop the gloves. And in hockey, only the goalie and superstar receive more respect than the fighter does. 

Maybe the fans in San Jose love Shelley as much as those did and still do in Columbus, but either way he has not changed much in the past two years.  Only three games into the season and already Shelley has racked up 22 minutes in the penalty box, at an average of 7.4 minutes per game. 

Numbers like that remind the Jacket fans why Shelley was so loved: He was a fighter, not a lover.

It will be bittersweet to see him again (like seeing an ex, only with a new lover), but nonetheless the memories will be flowing seeing the 45 with the Shelley on the back of jersey.

If only it was white and blue, not black and teal.    

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