Justin Williams will not start the 2019/20 season with the Carolina Hurricanes as he has decided to step away from hockey for a while.
There were really only two possibilities where Williams was concerned when the offseason began. He was expected to either retire or play another season out with the Hurricanes but he seems to be caught in the middle for the time being.
So, while he hasn’t retired, he won’t be part of the team heading into the campaign and there’s no word on when he will return, if at all.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey,” the forward told the Hurricanes official website. “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.
The 37-year-old veteran was still a huge asset to the Hurricanes, having scored 20 goals and amassed 53 points in 82 games with the team last season. His influence helped them reach the Eastern Conference Final and it will surely be missed while he remains out.
Team President and General Manager Don Waddell says the team was aware of the possibility that Williams would not be part of it and prepared its roster with that in mind.
“We appreciate Justin’s honesty and openness throughout this process, and respect his decision,” he said. “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.”
The three-time Stanley Cup winner played 1,244 games over the course of 18 seasons, scoring a total of 312 and 786 points during stints with the Hurricanes, Flyers, Kings and Capitals. He won one of his rings with Carolina, helping fire them to Cup glory at the end of the 2005/06 season and developed a reputation as one of the players any team would want on the ice during crucial situations.
The Hurricanes are far from favorites heading into next season and Bet365 is offering 30/1 odds on their Stanley Cup chances. Meanwhile, Canadian fans could get the lowdown on sports betting with Bet365 Canada from instadebitsportsbooks.ca.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the bookies’ favorites to lift the trophy next term and odds of 15/2 can be had with Bet365. The Boston Bruins are 10/1, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Toronto Maple Leafs are 9/1. Reigning champions, the St Louis Blues, are 15/1.
The Hurricanes are 15/1 to make it out of the Eastern with Bet365 but the Lighting are the favorites on that front as well at 13/4 with the aforementioned bookies. The Maple Leafs and Bruins are 4/1 and 5/1 respectively, while the Washington Capitals are 10/1.
The team will rue losing Williams for whatever amount of time they do but it could have been worse as he could have called it quits outright. The vet has only missed three regular-season games out of a possible 622 since turning 30 and is quite an advocate for longevity.
He was voted in as the winner of the 2018-19 Steve Chiasson Award by his teammates, an annual accolade handed to the Hurricanes player that “best exemplifies determination and dedication while proving to be an inspiration to his teammates through his performance and approach to the game.”