Justin Williams : biography
Justin Williams (born October 4, 1981) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger who currently plays for the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has also played for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes. He has been part of two Stanley Cup winning teams, in 2006 with Carolina and 2012 with Los Angeles.
Williams grew up in Cobourg, Ontario and played minor hockey in nearby Port Hope of the OMHA before gaining a reputation as a skilled playmaker with the Cobourg Cougars Jr.A. (OHA) in 1997-98.
Williams was drafted in the 6th round (125th overall) by the Plymouth Whalers in the 1998 OHL Priority Selection. Williams was signed as a 16-year old by the Whalers and split time between the OHL club and their affiliate Compuware Jr.A. club (NAHL) in the 1998-99 season. He finished his Juniors hockey with two seasons played for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.
In four seasons played with the Philadelphia Flyers, Williams struggled to live up to expectations as he tried to adapt to the varying systems of three separate coaches, Craig Ramsay (2000), Bill Barber (2000–02), and Ken Hitchcock (2002–06). Williams was also frequently injured, perhaps hampering his development. He broke his left hand in his rookie season (hit by David Tanabe, Carolina Hurricanes), and had various sprains and strains in his sophomore year. Williams suffered a left knee injury on January 18, 2003, when he was hit low by Tampa Bay's Brad Lukowich. The hit tore Williams's ACL and MCL, and on January 23, 2003, he had surgery to repair the ligaments. Originally projected to miss 4–8 months recovering from the injury, Williams made it back into Philadelphia's lineup in just three months.
Williams was traded to Carolina on January 20, 2004, in exchange for defenceman Danny Markov. During the NHL lockout in 2004–05, he went overseas to play for Luleå HF of the Swedish Elite League, where he posted 14 goals and 18 assists in 49 games.
Williams was signed to a one-year deal with the Hurricanes for the 2005–06 season, when he set career highs in games played (82), goals (31), assists (45), points (76), and penalty minutes (60).
Williams injured popular Montreal Canadiens hockey star and team captain Saku Koivu without being penalized in Game 3 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, for which he was villainized in some Canadian newspapers and by many Canadiens fans. In spite of the severity the injury caused by Williams' high-stick (severely threatened Koivu's eyesight, Koivu was out for the remainder of the year), the NHL did not suspend Williams for his errant action, allowing him to continue participating in the playoffs despite the severity of his infraction.
Williams scored the final goal of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, an empty net goal at 18:59 of the third period as the Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3–1 and won the series 4–3.
On July 1, 2006, Williams signed a 5-year deal with the Hurricanes, worth $3.5 million per season.
In 2006–07 Williams recorded career highs in goals (33), penalty minutes (73), power play goals (12), and game-winning goals (8). It was Williams' second consecutive season of 82 games played. Williams made his first appearance in an NHL All-Star game at the 2007 NHL All-Star game in Dallas, recording a goal and an assist. Williams also played for Team Canada in the World Championships, winning his second gold medal.
Williams was off to a good start for his 2007–08 season, with 30 points in 36 games (9 goals, 21 assists), before his season ended. On December 20, 2007, during the first period of a game with the Florida Panthers, Williams suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee after a hit by Rostislav Olesz. Williams underwent successful surgery for the torn ligaments on December 26, 2007, and returned on April 1, 2008, only to leave the game with an unrelated back injury.
On September 17, 2008, Williams was sidelined for 4–6 months when he tore his right Achilles tendon in an off-ice, preseason workout. Williams underwent surgery for the injury on September 18, 2008.
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