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Oh Captain, My Captain: Justin Williams Steps Away From Hurricanes

Justin Williams is still a Carolina Hurricane, but he will not be playing for the near future. His door is open for a return to the ice later in the season.

In the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes expect to make another big run into the playoffs. Maybe they will get to the Cup Final for the first time since 2006, beating the Boston Bruins along the way this time.

Whatever it is that the Canes end up doing, it will have to be without team captain Justin Williams, who announced on Monday, September 2 that he would be stepping away from the Canes for the time being. When I first read this, I thought Williams was retiring, leaving the Canes without their center for good. However, Williams is just stepping away to take some time and think about the next step in his life, which he said in a front-page article in the News and Observer.

Will this move hurt the Canes? Not one bit. In the offseason, the Canes acquired center Erik Haula from the Vegas Golden Knights, while signing free agent winger Ryan Dzingel, who split time with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets last year. Also giving credit to the N&O article I read this morning, the Canes stated that they were building their roster “as if Williams would not be with the team.” One of many reasons why I love our new management.

Look at all the young talent that the Canes have as well. Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, Warren Foegele, and Brock McGinn, just to name a few guys. The Canes are set, and while they are losing Williams, the heart and soul of their team who also happened to record the third-most points on the team (53) last year, the production on the ice can easily be filled.

As I mentioned earlier, Williams did not officially retire, and he is leaving the door open to coming back later in the season. In sports across the world, I have heard of countless stories where athletes come out of retirement to play another season or two (or more if they choose). In hockey, Predators captain Mike Fisher retired after the 2017 season, only to un-retire in 2018 to help the Preds make a Stanley Cup run. In football this past offseason, Jason Witten and Josh McCown both unretired.

If Williams comes back, Caniac Country would be more than excited. Williams’ teammates would gladly have him back on the ice. Williams could choose to spend half his season enjoying family time, and then the other half bringing his family to his games, as they would be watching Williams and the Canes making a run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals.

Whatever Williams eventually decides, I know it will be the right one. Williams has been a valuable member of the Canes, and I hope he will eventually decide to return to the team.

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