In the calendar year of 2020, nobody on the Carolina Hurricanes provided an impact quite like Justin Williams did.
Much of the Carolina Hurricanes fan base was anticipating the return of Justin Williams this season. He did that on January 7 with the announcement he was going to return to the Hurricanes on a one-year contract. Twelve days later, Williams returned to the ice and he did in a big way.
January 19 was the day. The much-anticipated return from his hiatus from hockey was at PNC Arena against the New York Islanders. He only played 13 minutes and six seconds for the game and had no goals or assists.
But in Justin Williams fashion, he made it count. It was a game tied at one in a shootout that was going on for a while. Then Williams, the Hurricanes eight shooter, beat Thomas Greiss five-hole, which was the eventual game-winner.
He followed this up two days later, by having a two-goal performance against the Winnipeg Jets. After having less than two weeks to prepare with the team before his return, in his first two games, you felt his presence.
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Before the coronavirus pandemic, Williams was hitting his stride, scoring six goals in the Hurricanes last five games. He was instrumental in getting the Hurricanes back into the wild card spot after all hope seemed lost when the team went on a four-game losing streak. He was making the impact on the score sheet it seemed almost every night until hockey was taken from us.
He wasn’t only making an impact with his play, however. He was with leadership. Although I like Jordan Staal, I don’t think he is very much captain material. Williams is just a player that shows heart and never really wanted the attention on him for his return. He epitomizes leadership and the Hurricanes lacked that until they got Williams to return.
I know that his impact on the Carolina Hurricanes goes way into the past, but we are still getting the production from Williams that we almost seem to expect all the time now. When you think of Hurricanes hockey, he is now one of the first names you can bring up.
He brought the team together last season, now he is just along for the ride and of course is producing. Hopefully, we will get to see more of Justin Williams in the future.
Question for CC Readers: What was your favorite Justin Williams moment from 2020?