Forward Justin Williams announced on Thursday that he will retire after 19 NHL seasons, including the past three with the Carolina Hurricanes and the previous two with the Washington Capitals. He was the Hurricanes’ captain during the 2018-19 season.
The 39-year-old stepped “away from the game” after he became an unrestricted free agent in during the summer of 2019 but signed a one-year contract with the Hurricanes on January 7 and played 20 regular-season games and seven Stanley Cup Playoff games with the team this past season. Williams finished the regular season with eight goals, 11 points, and a +2 rating and the Stanley Cup Playoffs with just one goal and an even rating.
When he wanted to return to the NHL midway through the season, the Capitals were reportedly among those who checked in with his camp before he signed with the Hurricanes.
Williams recorded 46 goals, 100 points, and a +29 rating in 162 games over two seasons with the Capitals from 2015-17. He was brought in to help the team get over the hump in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but the Capitals were not able to get past the second round despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy both seasons Williams was in Washington. Though, he scored six goals and 16 points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Capitals.
The Capitals looked up to Williams for leadership. When the Capitals trailed 2-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the 2017 First Round series, it was Williams who tried to steady the ship. He also scored two goals in that game to tie it. The Capitals would win the game 3-2 in overtime and the series in six games.
Williams played his 1000th career NHL game as a Capital on April 10, 2016.
In 1264 career NHL regular-season games with the Capitals, Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings, the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP posted 320 goals, 797 points, and a +110 rating. In 162 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Williams recorded 41 goals, 102 points, and a +36 rating.
Williams is known as “Mr. Game 7” as his teams are 8-1 in Game 7s and tied with Glen Anderson for the most career Game 7 goals (seven) in NHL history. His 15 points in Game 7s are also the most in the league record book. He earned the primary assist on forward Brock McGinn’s overtime winner in Game 7 against the Capitals in Round 1 of last season’s series. The Capitals lost the lone Game 7 Williams was with the team for, a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 8, 2020
Williams was selected 28th overall by the Flyers in the 2000 NHL Draft.
The Flyers announced on Monday that former Capitals’ defenseman Matt Niskanen retired at the age of 33.
By Harrison Brown