CALGARY, AB — He wasn’t always destined to be a prestigious scorer.
He wasn’t always a forward, either.
When Calgary Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler was drafted 10th overall in 2005 by the Buffalo Bandits, he was a defencemen by trade.
After being shipped to Calgary in 2006 for Kevin Dostie – a member of the 2004 NLL Championship team – things started to come together.
The Roughnecks asked the young defenceman to utilize his speed running the floor and help create some offence in transition.
“That’s how I got to the NLL,” Shattler said, understanding that defence was his ticket to the show. “I came in as a defender and they wanted me to push the ball as much as possible. That gave me my opportunity to get my foot in the door in the NLL.”
In his first full NLL season in 2007, it was apparent that the Toronto, ON, native had plenty of skill when it came to putting the ball in the back of the net as Shattler netted 16 goals.
With the natural ability to score mixed with his great speed, Shattler was a star in the transition game for the Roughnecks over the next five years, culminating with a Transition Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player award in 2011.
When the Flames purchased the Calgary Roughnecks after the 2011 season and Mike Board was instituted as the new general manager, they made the bold move to move Shattler into a full-time forward role.
“They moved me up after I scored a few goals, they saw what I could do up front,” Shattler said of the move. “They put their trust in me to play offence for their team and I’ve been up there ever since.”
And that shift to forward has paid big dividends.
Since taking his post on the left side of the offence, fans have witnessed Shattler jump up the boards quite a few times in celebration. In 85 games as a forward, the lefty has 153 goals and 372 points – an average of 4.3 points-per-game.
The points have piled up quickly for the 11-year veteran.
With an eight-point effort against the Vancouver Stealth on April 16th, Shattler scored his 600th point and scooped his 1000th loose ball.
He wasn’t aware of the records until a family member notified him, but it didn’t affect his preparation and focus for the game. A true warrior, he was trying to help the team earn a spot in the post-season rather than earn personal accolades.
“My sister told me about the 600 points and the loose balls. I was told before, but it wasn’t my focus during the game. I was trying to get into the playoffs. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t pull it off, it was a battle of a game and it didn’t work out in our favour.”
Shattler now sits first in loose balls and assists, second in points, and fifth in goals all-time in Roughnecks franchise history.
He is only the 13th player in NLL history to have 1000 loose balls and 600 points. That list includes the likes of John Tavares, Gary Gait, and Jim Veltman. Pretty impressive company.
“The milestone that I hit…that was amazing,” Shattler said with a big smile.
As a kid, Shattler looked up to many NLL players, including Roughnecks greats Kaleb Toth and Tracey Kelusky, among others.
Little did he know that one day he would get to play with them. In fact, he won the 2009 NLL Championship with Toth and Kelusky.
They are Roughnecks legends and Shattler is quickly joining them as one of the best in Riggers history.
“It’s great that people consider me alongside those two players. I grew up idolizing these guys and I got to play with them up in Calgary. For me to be able to step up on a pedestal with those guys, it’s unbelievable.”
It’s been a long journey for the defenceman turned forward, highlighted by plenty of personal accolades and an NLL Championship.
And he’s looking for even more.
“It’s awesome to be a part of this team for as long as I have been. It’s given me the opportunity to reach those goals. I plan on staying with the Roughnecks for couple more years, so hopefully I can break a couple more.”
Not many players get the chance to play in the NLL for as long as Jeff Shattler and he’s not taking a second of it for granted.
“It’s a great opportunity that I got with Brad Bannister and then the Flames took over and put their trust in me as well,” Shattler said. “For being a part of the team for as long as I have, I owe it to the ownership and my teammates. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”