Carolina Hurricanes team captain Justin Williams announced he will step away from the NHL ahead of the 2019-20 season on Monday.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey,” Williams said via a press release. “For as long as I can remember, my whole off-season until this point has been hockey and doing what was necessary to prepare for the upcoming season. Because of my current indecision, and without the type of mental and physical commitment that I’m accustomed to having, I’ve decided to step away from the game.”
Williams, 37, has played 18 seasons in the NHL and played two separate stints with Carolina – one from 2003-09, during which he played a significant role in the Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup championship victory, and a return to the organization in 2017. He was named the team’s captain on Sept. 13, 2018 and led Carolina to the postseason for the first time in 10 years.
The Cobourg, Ont., native played all 82 games in each of the last two seasons, scoring 51 points in 2017-18 and 53 points last year, his highest single-season point total since 2011-12. Williams added four goals and three assists over the Hurricanes’ 15-game playoff run, which ended in the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins. Williams’ future had been uncertain all summer after his two-year contract with Carolina expired at the end of the season.
“It’s important to me that the focus of attention is on the current, very talented group the Carolina Hurricanes have assembled, as they prepare to build on the momentum and growth we established last season,” Williams said.
The team’s announcement distinctly notes that Williams will not join the Hurricanes for the start of the 2019-20 season and makes no mention of Williams retiring from professional hockey. While Carolina made no mention of when Williams might make a final decision regarding his career, it appears possible that No. 14 could return to the league as early as this coming season.
“We appreciate Justin’s honesty and openness throughout this process, and respect his decision,” Hurricanes president and general ganager Don Waddell, via a press release. “He’s been an important part of our team, but we did prepare our roster with the understanding that he might step away. We are confident in the group we’ve assembled.”
Williams has won the Stanley Cup three times in his NHL career, once with the Hurricanes (2006) and twice with the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014). He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2014 playoffs’ most valuable player and holds the all-time NHL record for most points in playoff Game 7s (15), which has earned Williams the nickname ‘Mr. Game 7.’
Source: Read Full Article