Once upon a time, the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup in victory. The year was 2006 and Justin Williams (former Capitals and LA Kings forward) was an integral part of the winning strategy for the team. It would be his first Game Seven win, with a shot into the empty net of the Edmonton Oilers.
Only one other player from the winning team remains on the current roster. Cam Ward was a rookie goalie at the time, having only played 28 games in the NHL. He was later awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs. Unfortunately, his stats have decreased over time and newly acquired Scott Darling is likely to be in the number one spot this season.
So what does Williams bring? The Washington Capitals have nothing but good things to say about his locker room presence as well as his tenacity on the ice. When he entered free agency he is reported to have said: “I want to go to a team that has a chance to win.” The Hurricanes need someone with the kind of determination J-Will has to bring his leadership from the locker room to the ice. At 35, he has a world of experience to share with his teammates – including what it is like to win three Stanley Cups and to play on a team that couldn’t get past themselves in the second round.
Returning to his former home “Stick” has said, “I want to be an impact player for a long time and I plan on being one the next couple years as well.” The veteran player has that potential with a relatively young group of players on the Hurricanes. He really is looking forward to his time (two years) in Raleigh saying: “You just want to help guide as best you can, because you know what it takes, and you know what works and what doesn’t, a lot of the time.” Williams, who had one of his best goal-scoring years since leaving Carolina, recorded 24 goals and 24 assists last season. He continued to be a force in the playoffs for the Caps, with one game-winning goal.
On a personal note, Justin will be joined by his wife Kelly and two children Jade and Jaxon. They are his pride and joy! Jaxon has been seen skating at Kettler Ice Rink in Virginia and will likely continue his training with dad in Raleigh. Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Williams in June 2017 became a naturalized US citizen having lived in the US since he was 16. He hosts an annual camp back in Cobourg and is active in raising funds for disadvantaged children to play hockey. The Williams family will be a great asset for Raleigh and The Research Triangle.