Woolley is thankful he didn't take gamble
By Ted Kulfan / The Detroit News
Thursday, September 18, 2003
TRAVERSE CITY -- Security is the buzzword around the NHL these days. That's what the summer's unrestricted free agents were seeking, and many still are.
Defenseman Jason Woolley was looking for it last summer, but he wasn't ready to leave Detroit.
"This team is a great team. Why would I go anywhere else?" said Woolley, 34, who signed a two-year deal worth $1.8 million the evening before unrestricted free agency began, July 1.
Woolley could have earned more money and more ice time by finding a new team over the summer.
But he realized during his time with the Red Wings last season -- he was acquired from Buffalo in November after defenseman Jiri Fischer was injured -- that Detroit was where he wanted to be.
"This organization is awesome," Woolley said. "I've never seen an organization treat its players better. The coaching staff treats you as a human being. It's a fun bunch of players and coaches to be around.
"I wouldn't know where else I would want to play. It's not really about the money at this point in my career."
Woolley didn't want to gamble on free agency and end up unsigned and not playing like others, such as defensemen Ken Klee and Dmitry Yushkevinch.
"It's not what it used to be, being an unrestricted free agent," Woolley said. "I didn't want to get stuck, having turned down good money and sitting there while camp is going on.
"There are good players still out there (unsigned). I have a family to take care of and they're very comfortable here."
In 62 games with the Wings, Woolley had 23 points (six goals, 17 assists). He had one goal in four playoff games against Anaheim.
General Manager Ken Holland was pleased to get Woolley back in the fold, providing depth to a powerful unit.
"Jason played really well for us in the playoffs," Holland said. "He was one of our better defensemen."
Playing time will be tight this season, too, but Woolley is ready to stake his claim for ice time.
"It's a long season and I've been there and done that before," Woolley said. "There are 82 games we have to play. I'm willing to do what I have to do. The coaches know what all of us can do best. Everyone has a role. No one on this team settles for pouting or being down."