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Too small? Hogwash! says Chicago's Williams

by Larry Wigge / Chicago Blackhawks

Underestimated. Under the radar. Undrafted. Unappreciated.

Finding it hard to prove himself after a pretty good junior career with the Peterborough Petes, Jason Williams signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings shortly after an impressive training camp in September, 2000. But the too-small-to-make-it winger still needed five seasons in the minors to finally earn a legitimate shot at playing regularly in the NHL.

There always has been something about this kid from London, Ontario, one who swiped the hockey stick his older brother Darren got as a gift on Christmas when he was four and refused to give it back. And he showed all of those scouts who wouldn’t believe in him that he could do some amazing things with a hockey stick in his hands.

Williams was part of the Stanley Cup roster in Detroit in 2002, scoring eight goals in 25 games in the regular season. But it wasn’t until he lit the red light 26 times in just 43 games for Assat Pori in the Finnish Elite League during the lockout in 2004-05 that Red Wings officials really began to make plans that included him.

Twenty-one goals and 37 assists followed in 2005-06 -- many of those points coming when new coach Mike Babcock moved him back on the right point on the power play. Still under intense scrutiny while playing through various injuries last season, suddenly Williams found himself a former Red Wing ... just when he thought he might get another chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final.

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