Justin Williams announced his retirement from the National Hockey League on Thursday. The decision brings an end to a career that lasted 19 seasons, and included three Stanley Cup championships as well as a Conn Smythe trophy.
"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 be able 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.
Williams was nicknamed Mr. Game 7 for his playoff heroics that frequently took place in the scenario he's named after. He is tied for most goals in Game 7s with Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson at seven, and owns the record for most Game 7 points with 15. Williams most recently showed off his knack for clutch postseason play two seasons ago, when he assisted on Brock McGinn's game-winning second overtime goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a win over the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.
As for his career numbers, he notched 320 goals and 477 assists in the regular season and had another 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 162 playoff games. With those numbers he helped Carolina win the Stanley Cup in 2006, and brought two championships to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, and winning the Conn Smythe trophy as MVP of the playoffs in 2014. Williams began his career with the Philadelphia Flyers and also had a two-year stint with the Capitals.
His most recent accomplishments included helping getting the Canes to the playoffs the last two seasons, and also helping usher in a brief tradition of on-ice postgame celebrations that turned Carolina into a fan favorite in the 2018-19 season -- the latter of which drew the ire of since-fired hockey commentator Don Cherry.
You can read the rest of Williams's retirement statement below.
"I want to thank every single one of my teammates for challenging me every day to be better. My friend and agent Thane Campbell for having my back all these years. Bobby Clarke and the Philadelphia Flyers organization for seeing the potential in a scrawny kid from Cobourg, Ont., and selecting me in the draft. My first coach Craig Ramsay for giving me an opportunity right away to realize my dream of playing in the NHL. Jim Rutherford and the Carolina Hurricanes for seeing that same potential and allowing me to grow as a player. Phil Anschutz, Dean Lombardi, Michael Futa and the Los Angeles Kings organization whom I will forever be grateful to for helping me resurrect a career that was sliding away, and giving me a renewed confidence in myself at a time when I needed it most. The Washington Capitals organization for the chance to keep playing for championships. Peter Karmanos and Ron Francis for agreeing to bring me back to the place I now call home and finish my career for the Hurricanes. Tom Dundon and Rod Brind'Amour for their leadership and trust in me as a player to bring me back this past year for one last run.
"My family has sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am, so I want to thank my mom and dad for being there for me every step of the way. 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 everyone as I retire from pro hockey."