When Tiger Woods, Hootie, a future MSU hockey coach and Lord Stanley's chalice crossed paths in East Lansing

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Tiger Woods, here proudly hugging the 1995 U.S. Amateur Championship trophy, met Hootie and the Blowfish's Darius Rucker at Rick's American Cafe in East Lansing that same year, the lead singer recalls.

East Lansing — Michigan State’s hockey players have likely heard their share of tales from coach Danton Cole, from his time as a national champion for the Spartans to winning the Stanley Cup.

But you’d have to wonder if they’ve ever heard maybe the coolest story their coach has. At least, you might have wondered that until last week.

It was a few days ago when Darius Rucker, the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish, did an interview at as he was set to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He talked about his love for the game and how he fits in playing while also continuing to perform.

Then he was asked about the first time he met Tiger Woods.

“So we're finishing up a string of clubs and we're playing this club in East Lansing, Michigan,” Rucker said. “We'd play a show and then we'd go out to a bar called Rick’s American Café. We were sitting at the bar and I look over the bar and I'm like, ‘Isn't that that Tiger Woods kid that everybody's talking about?’ He's 18. And he was going to Stanford and (our bass player Dean Felber) says like, ‘Yeah.’ So I went over and I said, ‘Are you Tiger Woods?’ and he says, ‘Are you the guy from Hootie and the Blowfish?’ and I sat down and we just hung out all night.

“But the thing that tops the story, I'm sitting there with this kid Tiger Woods, 18, and we're sitting there and then somebody comes in with the Stanley Cup. It was his week. Here I am in the bar with Tiger Woods and sitting on the bar was the frigging Stanley Cup. That was a crazy night.”

That somebody, of course, was Cole and it was the summer of 1995, just a couple months after Cole had won the Cup with the New Jersey Devils. After the interview was posted the photos started to flood social media.

There was Cole with Rucker and another with Woods, and obviously, the Cup.

“That got kind of blown up last week,” Cole said on Monday. “What’s old is new again. All my friends are sending stuff to me and half of them guys I’m surprised have known me 30 years didn’t know about that story.”

So, what’s the story, coach?

“We had a nice get-together at my house and there was about 100 people there … Then our thought was we were gonna take it — we all hung out at Rick’s when we were here, just the offseason — but we thought it would be a good night. I think it was a Tuesday night, middle of summer, early-August, shouldn’t be busy and it just happened to be the night, it was Michigan Fest back then, and Hootie and the Blowfish were there and they had, 20-25,000 people there. So, the bar ended up being lot more packed than we thought it was gonna be, then (the band) showed up and that was kinda neat. And Tiger Woods I believe was playing at the (Western) Amateur and one of his friends’ sister went to Michigan State, so they were over this way. So it ended up being kind of a crazy night there and we had a good time.

“We took the Stanley Cup to Denny’s and had a little breakfast. Tiger and Darius didn’t come with us to Denny’s. … It ended up being a really good night and a really good story and all completely accidental.”

In those days, the Western Amateur was played at Point O’Woods Golf and Country Club, meaning it was easy for Woods to pop over to East Lansing.

Cole said they all knew who Woods was, but he wasn’t the star he is now.

“We just chatted a little,” Cole said. “Everyone knew who he was when he came in, but he was still I’d say 18 or 19 around then, but well known, obviously.

“It was good. We got some good pictures out of that night.”

And one heck of a story.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau