Jay Wells was a junior standout with the Kingston Canadiens from 1976 through 1979. It wasn't flashy skill or scoring exploits that made him the 16th overall draft pick in the NHL's deepest amateur draft (1979) but rather his reputation as a mean and aggressive defenseman. Jay was able to work on that reputation throughout almost 1100 NHL games.
Every team in the NHL wanted Jay because he was one of the best in the entire circuit at clearing the front of the net. He was an excellent body checker, and a willing fighter. Jay was also recognized as one of the better shot blocking defensemen. It was said the only things stronger than his arms and legs were his work ethic and character. While he didn't possess great offensive skills, he had decent agility and usually made an intelligent clearing pass to get the Kings out of trouble in their own zone. He was at his best when he played within his limits and didn't over extend himself.
After 9 years in Los Angeles, Jay was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1988. That trade happened only a month or so after the Kings had acquired Wayne Gretzky. While it was disappointing for Jay not to get a chance to play with Wayne, he brought his hard working style to the more physical east coast and settled in nicely.
Jay would spend 2 seasons in Philly before a late trade in March 1990 took him to Buffalo. The veteran experience Jay brought to the Sabres was his biggest asset at this stage of his career. He continued to play his rock-hard style of hockey, but struggled with injuries. He played in just 85 games over parts of three seasons in Buffalo. Lat in the 1991-92 season was traded to the New York Rangers for a similar defenseman in Randy Moller.
Jay enjoyed his time in New York. He spent 4 seasons there, none more memorable than the 1993-94 season. Jay played in 79 games games that season, his first fully healthy season in 7 seasons. He also participated in 23 playoff games as the New York Rangers battled the Vancouver Canucks in a memorable battle for the Stanley Cup. The Rangers ultimately won the championship. For Jay, like all hockey players, it was the highlight of his career. All the years of blood, sweat and injuries finally were rewarded for Jay and his Rangers teammates. When Jay had his opportunity to lift the Cup above his head, he said "I had no idea what to do with it."
Jay continued to play in the NHL until 1997, with stops in St. Louis and Tampa Bay, before he opted to step off the ice and behind the bench.
He played in 1098 NHL games, scoring 47 goals and 263 points, while earning 2359 minutes in the penalty box. He is one of hockey's true warriors, and deserves to be remembered as such.