Williams taking break from NHL
"This is the first time in my life that I've felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey," Williams said. "For as long as I can remember, my whole offseason 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."
Williams is an unrestricted free agent, but he made it clear that he would only re-sign with the Hurricanes if he decided to return for the upcoming campaign.
"We appreciate Justin's honesty and openness throughout this process, and respect his decision," said Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell. "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 6-foot-1 winger, who played for Carolina from 2003-09, rejoined the club on a two-year deal prior to the 2017-18 campaign. Williams was named captain ahead of the 2018-19 season and tallied 23 goals and 53 points to help end the Hurricanes' 10-year playoff drought.
The 18-year veteran recorded 312 goals and 786 points over 1,244 career contests between the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and Washington Capitals.
Known for his clutch performances throughout his career, Williams earned the epithet "Mr. Game 7." A three-time Stanley Cup champion, Williams also captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with the Kings in 2014.