Justin Williams hasn't said if he will play in the NHL this season, but Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said Thursday that he has an indication of what the 37-year-old forward might do.
"Obviously I've talked to him and I have a pretty good idea where his head is and where his heart is," Brind'Amour told The News & Observer. "He's going to make a good decision really soon here and it's going to be the right one, whatever it is."
Brind'Amour said he played golf Wednesday with Williams and goalie Cam Ward, who had signed a one-day contract with the Hurricanes that day and announced his retirement from the NHL.
"From our standpoint, if [Williams] plays it's awesome and it's easy," Brind'Amour said. "If he doesn't, then you know what, we'll move on and we'll be all right. He's obviously thought about it forever. If he doesn't (return) then it's the right thing for him."
Williams, who became an unrestricted free agent July 1, was Carolina's captain last season, his 18th in the NHL. He was second on the Hurricanes with 23 goals and third with 53 points, and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference Final. It was Carolina's first time in the playoffs since 2009.
The newspaper reported that Williams does not have a locker stall at the Hurricanes' practice rink and that Brind'Amour has been considering lineups that don't include Williams.
But if Williams does choose to play, "it's almost like an addition and a huge addition," Brind'Amour said.
Williams has 786 points (312 goals, 474 points) in 1,244 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals and 101 points (40 goals, 61 assists) in 155 playoff games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and the Kings in 2012 and 2014.
"I'm going to take my time and make sure I make the right [decision], right?" Williams said at NHL Awards Media Day in Las Vegas on June 18. "Because if I'm all in, I'm going to be all in. If I'm not quite all there, then I have to reassess the situation. I'm not going to be good if I'm 85 percent all in. I've got to be all in. That's the only thing that's fair to me, fair to the teammates, fair to everybody."