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Williams Eager to Learn in Canes Front Office

Williams: 'The end game is doing my part to try to bring a championship back here'

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Perhaps Justin Williams' most famous moniker, even if he ever so slightly bristles at the spotlight, is Mr. Game 7.

Now, he's adding a new title: Special Advisor to the General Manager with the Carolina Hurricanes.

What exactly does that entail?

For the Canes, it's an opportunity to add a respected voice to a collaborative front office and tap into Williams' vast knowledge of the game and contacts around the league.

"When we have scouting meetings, meetings about our current team, anything we might need, he'll be accessible for us," President and General Manager Don Waddell said. "The knowledge that he brings just getting off the ice a short time ago is going to be very valuable to us."

For Williams, it's a chance to dip his toe into the water of the business side of hockey in an official capacity as he transitions into the next chapter of his career.

"You finish playing, and then you kind of figure out what you want to do when you grow up," he said. "There's a lot of work that these guys put in, and I'm just slowly going to try to learn it as best I can."

Williams' past experience is in leading a team on and off the ice. He retired from playing professionally after a storied NHL career that spanned 1,264 regular-season games and 162 playoff games. Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, totaled 797 points (320g, 477a) in his career, which included 316 points (128g, 188a) in 449 career games with the Canes.

Williams will now get hands-on experience in constructing what he and the Canes hope will be a championship team.

"You're watching with a different eye. That's very unique. Am I going to be good at rating players or grading players? I don't know. I'm just learning what I need to see in a player," he said. "I'm excited just to see the behind-the-scenes and what goes into all the decisions that are made. Building a hockey team is something that I feel like I have pretty good interest in, so I'll be keeping my ears and eyes open at how these decisions come about. I'll be learning as much as I can."

While Williams soaks up anything and everything he can, Waddell has big plans for his new apprentice.

"He doesn't know what he got himself into," he laughed. "We're going to keep him as busy as we can."

And Williams' first big task? Waddell has an idea.

"I want to put him into the first contract negotiation I can so I can show him all the pain him and his agent put me through," he joked. "We'll get him broken in right away."

Though this front office addition has been in the works for some time now, it is rather fitting that it comes a day after the Canes were unhappy with their performance in a 6-4 loss in Chicago and are seeking to rediscover their identity.

Look no further than the man who helped define that identity and stitch it into the fabric of the organization.

"The last two games have been just OK. I think this team has a long way to go, but we're certainly on the right direction. We have great leaders on the team," Williams said, even once referring to the man behind the bench as Coach Brind'Amour. "Once everybody plays catch-up, we're one of the best teams in the league."

In the summer of 2017 when Williams returned to the team with which he won his first Stanley Cup 11 years prior, he did so to help the Canes "climb the ladder and get relevant." He accomplished that and more, as he helped to reshape what it means to be a Hurricane.

But even though his playing days are over, his job isn't finished.

"The end game is doing my part to try to bring a championship back here," he said. "I was able to help out back in 2006, but I know this team is very capable and very close to getting back to doing that."

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