In the moments after a 4-2 loss to Phoenix, the Blue Jackets dressing room in Nationwide Arena went from sullen to shocked.
Left winger Jody Shelley, one of the most popular players in franchise history and part of the team's bedrock, was traded to the San Jose Sharks shortly after the game for a sixth-round pick in the 2009 entry draft.
"This is all I know in the NHL," Shelley said. "This is what I've been around. I've really gotten attached to this city, the fans, my teammates. It hasn't really hit me, but I'm sure it will when I get home tonight."
Word spread quickly, and Shelley could be seen loading the contents of his locker into a garbage bag.
"It's a shock," center Michael Peca said. "Jody was a great leader for us. There's a void there now. I didn't know him before I got here (in September). But I picked up on his spot in the room pretty quickly. I really appreciated his honesty. People like him are few and far between."
Coach Ken Hitchcock, calling Shelley a "great team guy," said the players will have a meeting this morning before practice to discuss the trade.
Shelley likely will fly to Calgary this morning. The Sharks play the Flames tonight.
"Jody's got the greatest quality going," Hitchcock said. "He was team first, and that's what endeared him to his teammates. He fought for them. He did everything within his ability to help us win.
"If he's not going to play on a regular basis, we have an obligation to give him that opportunity somewhere else. And given our situation on the left wing, we were having a hard time getting him in the lineup."
Shelley had played in only 31 of the Blue Jackets' 52 games this season. He was a healthy scratch last night for the seventh straight game.
"My situation was very real," Shelley said. "I wasn't playing."
In October, when Shelley was scratched eight times in 11 games, the Sharks phoned Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson. At the time, Howson -- with a dressing room full of young, unproven players -- was reluctant to move Shelley.
But Howson told Shelley and Hitchcock that if the Blue Jackets reached the point later in the season when Shelley wasn't playing, he'd likely pull the trigger.
"I know there's going to be a lot of disappointed players," Howson said. "He answered the bell every time. He's a big part of this team, a big part of this community. These are difficult decisions."
The Blue Jackets play the Sharks twice the rest of the season -- Feb. 8 in San Jose and Feb. 27 in Nationwide Arena. For many, it will be strange to see Shelley wearing a teal sweater with a Shark on the chest.
"It's going to take some getting used to," he said.
Shelley has the franchise record with 1,025 penalty minutes and 119 fighting majors. He played in 380 games, tied with defenseman Rostislav Klesla for second on the franchise list. In 2002-03, Shelley led the NHL with 249 penalty minutes.
The Blue Jackets signed him to a free-agent contract on Jan. 31, 2001. Two weeks later, they recalled him from minor-league Syracuse to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins and their tough guy, Krzysztof Oliwa, a former Blue Jacket.
Two years later, Shelley met his future wife, Mandy, a central Ohio girl. They live in Dublin but have a cabin retreat in Hocking Hills.
"I consider myself from Ohio," he said late night. "I'll be back this summer."
One of the NHL's most feared fighters had to struggle to fight back tears.
"This organization should be so proud of what they're doing," Shelley said. "The fans should be so proud of this team and everything that's going on here. It's so classy, and I'm so proud to be able to say I was a Blue Jacket; I really am."