Justin Williams is hopeful he'll play in the NHL again. He can't guarantee it, though.
Williams, the Carolina Hurricanes' 38-year-old forward, said on the NHL @TheRink podcast this week that his desire is, of course, to have the NHL season resume at some point, giving him the chance to compete for his fourth Stanley Cup championship.
The season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and if it doesn't resume, Williams said he is unsure if he'll return for the 2020-21 season.
Williams sat out the first half of this season mulling retirement before returning for his 19th NHL season on a pro-rated, one-year contract he signed with Carolina on Jan. 7. He made his season debut Jan. 19.
"I think about my future quite often, I don't think I needed the break to actually think about it," Williams said on an episode of the podcast that also featured an interview with NHL.com columnist Nick Cotsonika. "But the fact that there's so much uncertainty surrounding the next few months of everyone's lives, I haven't really sat down and thought in hypotheticals either. I was very comfortable last year being comfortable not knowing. Right now, that's fine with me too."
Williams also wouldn't get into hypotheticals about what could still happen this season, other than to express his belief in the Hurricanes' chances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, should they take place, especially with defenseman Dougie Hamilton ready to return to the lineup.
Hamilton, who has 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games this season, has been out since fracturing his left fibula on Jan. 16, an injury that required surgery the next day.
"I think if you look at just the possibilities of our team hopefully when the NHL does come back, we have an extremely deep hockey team and it really would be a shame if we weren't able to put that product on the ice," Williams said.
However, Williams was cautious about the impact the lengthy pause will have on players when the League returns, using his own personal experience as a guide.
He was 20 games into his season and said he was just starting to feel good on the ice again, having scored in five straight games before the pause.
"Once you take a couple weeks off it really hits you that you're not quite there anymore and maybe the plays that you thought you could make you can't really do them anymore, or the extra 10 seconds you could stay out and make something happen you can't really do that anymore," Williams said. "That part will be a tough way to come back. Hopefully we do come back and certainly if we do, that's going to be one of the things, the game isn't going to be played quite as cleanly as it would have been if there had been no interruption. That's tough but it's a unique situation for everybody and everybody is going to have to adapt the same way."
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