WORCESTER, Mass. — Just as the pieces were coming together for the upcoming season, the Railers will be without defenseman Bobby Shea, who was signed to contract earlier this summer.

Instead, the hockey player-turned real estate agent has decided to pursue an opportunity in Beijing, China of all places. His signing with ORG Beijing (VHL) came under the radar, as of yesterday his signing wasn’t reported anywhere, other his player profile on the league’s website. 

The veteran forward reflected on his opportunity in a social media post on July 24:

“This year will be different as I’m heading to Beijing, China for the next hockey season. A very long way from home, but an opportunity and experience I couldn’t pass up.”

Entering his sixth pro season, Shea’s move to China will be his first season outside of North America. Shea won a Kelly Cup with the Reading Royals in 2013 to kick-off his career and went on to play over 270 games between the AHL and ECHL. He last played for the Fort Wayne Komets in 2017-18 and did not play last season.

Just as the team announced the signing of another veteran skater, Henrik Samuelsson, the team did not include Shea in the team’s press release but did mention the signings of nine other skaters who signed earlier this summer. While the team hasn’t announced anything regarding Shea’s status, the team can release, suspend, or trade his playing rights to another ECHL team. 

The loss of Shea puts Worcester in an interesting situation with Ivan Chukarov, Connor Doherty, Anthony Florentino, and Kyle McKenzie all under contract, and the potential of Mike Cornell, Ryan MacKinnon, and David Quenneville once again being assigned from Bridgeport. With these seven defensemen covering Worcester’s blue line, one would have to wonder what it would be like if Shea ended up staying on Worcester’s roster. If Worcester ends up suspending him and things don’t work out for him in China, the door could remain open for him to join the Railers in the middle of the season.

Keep track of all the signings and movement during the 2019 ECHL offseason by visiting our ECHL Transactions page!

Follow Dylan Schofield on Twitter (@WooHockeyNews) for the latest on all things Worcester Railers hockey.