Justin Williams is taking an indefinite break from the NHL.
The 18-year veteran of the league announced via the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday that he is stepping away from the game ahead of the 2019-20 season.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey,” Williams said in a team press release.
“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.
“It’s important to me that the focus of attention is on the current, very talented group the Carolina Hurricanes have assembled, as they prepare to build on the momentum and growth we established last season.”
The 37-year-old unrestricted free agent is coming off a two-year, $9-million deal with the Hurricanes.
Williams has recorded 786 points across 1,244 games with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals. He won Stanley Cups with the Hurricanes (2006) and the Kings (2012, 2014).
Throughout his career, Williams became known for his clutch performances, earning the moniker Mr. Game 7 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014. He has racked up seven goals and eight assists in nine career Game 7 appearances.
Williams, who helped captain the Hurricanes to the 2019 Eastern Conference finals, accrued 305 points in 429 games with the Hurricanes. The club’s president and general manager, Don Waddell, said he appreciated Williams’ “honesty” and “openness” throughout the process.
“He’s been an important part of our team, but we did prepare our roster with the understanding that he might step away,” said Waddell.
“We are confident in the group we’ve assembled.”
Williams had 53 points in 82 games last season as the Hurricanes made their first playoff appearance since 2009. He added seven points in 15 post-season games.