Vandelay’s Coffee Talk with ex-Penguin Jason Woolley

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Jason Woolley had a front row seat to two of the weirder things that went on in the 90′s and sandwiched right in between he spent part of a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Jason came to Pittsburgh along with Stu Barnes in a trade that sent Chris Wells to the Florida Panthers one year after Jason helped eliminate the Penguins from the playoffs in the year of the “rat”.

A few years after leaving Pittsburgh he was playing for the Buffalo Sabres when Brett Hull scored a Cup clinching goal for Dallas.  A goal that ESPN said is the fifth worst call in sports history.   That year in the playoffs Jason was tied for most overall points by a defenseman and also tied for most points on the entire Buffalo roster.

Jason and I talked about his time with the Penguins, Mellanby’s “Rat Trick”, the Olympics and more.

 Coffee Talk with Art Vandelay

Art: What was it like playing with Mario Lemieux? What was the locker room atmosphere like? What memories do you have of the Civic Arena?
Jason: The Civic Arena reminded me of a  “old barn”. It did not matter to me what the arena looked like. Playing with Mario was special. The locker room featured “Hall of Fame” seating Mario, Jagr, and Francis.

Art: You played for the Florida Panthers the year of Scott Mellanby’s  “rat-trick”. What was the experience like?
Jason: That Florida team was the closet team I was ever a part of. That year we were an expansion team so we were considered “misfits” of the league. We got solid goaltending, and we had a unbelievable cast of characters. It all came together from the rat.

Art: When you played for the Florida Panthers you beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. What was that like?
Jason: We believed we could do it. We were a resilient team that got timely goaltending.

Art: In 1992 You won a silver medal in the Olympics. What was that like to win a silver medal?
Jason: I was 20 years old. I left Michigan State to go through 4 months of grueling tryouts. I had a good mindset, and my confidence level was high. It was a honor to play for my country.

Art: You started your own management company “The Players Group” where you manage young hockey players. What’s it like going from player to agent?
Jason: It is all about making an impact on kids lives. Players feel comfortable with me because I have a lot years of professional hockey and I can provide a unique perspective most agents cannot.

Art: Jason do you have anything else going on?
Jason: I authored a CVR mental side of hockey program for youth. CVR stands for Creative Visualization and Relaxation.  The program comes with 10 hockey and six learning lessons. This product that we have developed is the “New Apple of Health and Wellness”.  Read more about it here:

When I was younger I was with a buddy of mine Seabass, chasing autographs of the Florida Panthers, the year they beat us in seven. We ran into Jason and he walked up to a young thin Seabass squeezed his skinny bicep and asked in a serious tone ” Which way to the gym“. I asked Jason if he remembered the story that Seabass and still talk about.  He said no as he laughed very loud.  He told me when it came to fans he always took them serious and treated them well.

Before the Salary Cap there were many players who had very short stays in Pittsburgh and I would be hard pressed to remember all of them.  I always remembered Jason and cheered just a bit louder for him just because he took a moment of his time.