National Hockey League (NHL) veteran Justin Williams has decided to step away from the game of hockey. The 37-year-old, who is an unrestricted free agent, announced the decision on Monday. He has played 18 seasons in the league and has been with the Carolina Hurricanes for the past two years.
While making his decision public through a media statement, Williams said, “This is the first time in my life that I've felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey.”
“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,” he stated.
Williams joined the Hurricanes before the 2017-18 season and was chosen to lead the side in September 2018. It was his second stint with the franchise after spending parts of five seasons with the team in the mid-2000s. During his first stint with Carolina, he won the prestigious Stanley Cup in 2006. The NHL stalwart, who began his professional career with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000-01, also played for the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals.
Williams was a key member of Stanley Cup-winning sides of the Kings in 2012 and 2014. He was also awarded the Conn Smythe Award (playoff MVP) after scoring nine goals and 16 assists and posting a plus-13 rating in 26 postseason games following the 2014 playoffs.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell mentioned, “We appreciate Justin's honesty and openness throughout this process, and respect his decision.” “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,” he further added.
Williams has 312 goals and 474 assists in 1,244 games in his long and illustrious career. He played in all 82 regular-season games, registering 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in the last season.