Justin Williams announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday.
“Since I first broke into the League a day after my 19th birthday back in 2000, this game has brought me so much that I will never be able to repay it,” Williams said in a statement. “The countless experiences, relationships, lessons and hardships will remain with me forever as I move on to the next stage of my life. I’ve never once taken for granted the privilege it is to play a game for a living, and that is probably why I was able to play it professionally for as long as I have.”
The 38-year-old forward, who was captain of the Hurricanes in 2018-19, scored 797 points (320 goals, 477 assists) in 1.264 games over 19 NHL seasons with the Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. He sat out the first half of 2019-20 mulling retirement before returning for his 19th NHL season on a pro-rated, one-year contract he signed with Carolina on Jan. 7. He made his season debut Jan. 19 and scored 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in 20 games and one goal in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“I think about my future quite often, I don’t think I needed the break to actually think about it,” Williams told the NHL @TheRink podcastApril 15. “But the fact that there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the next few months of everyone’s lives, I haven’t really sat down and thought in hypotheticals either. I was very comfortable last year being comfortable not knowing. Right now, that’s fine with me too.”
Selected by Philadelphia in the first round (No. 28) of the 2000 NHL Draft, Williams has scored 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 162 playoff games, winning the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and Kings in 2012 and 2014, the year he won the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the most valuable player during the playoffs.
Williams is one of nine players in NHL history to score 100 goals and win the Stanley Cup with two different teams. He scored 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in nine Game 7s, the most by any player in NHL history. His teams were 8-1 in Game 7s.
“My family has sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am, so I want to thank mom and dad for being there for me every step of the way,” Williams said. “My sister Nikki for being my biggest fan since Day One. My wife Kelly and my kids Jaxon and Jade for embracing this journey with me. Life is so much better when you have people you love to share it with.
“Thank you for everyone as I retire from pro hockey.”