The Carolina Hurricanes have named a captain for the upcoming season, doing away with the “co-captain” they had last season. This time around, Justin Williams will wear the “C” on his sweater, with Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal serving as alternates.
Williams, 36, was the player many expected to take on the role this season after the Hurricanes struggled again last year. The veteran forward has never worn a “C” before in his professional career, but has a ton of experience in the league and can help his young teammates try to find a winning culture. A three-time Stanley Cup champion—including 2006 with the Hurricanes—and outstanding playoff performer, Williams actually finished third on the team in scoring last season despite his advanced age. Registering 51 points in 82 games, he finished ahead of other key forwards like Staal, Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner. The latter two have been traded since then and while Staal remains with the team he’s struggled to keep up with the “first line center” moniker that had been placed upon him.
New head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was Williams’ teammate and captain during that 2006 Cup run, has a huge task in front of him to motivate this group enough to get back into the playoffs. The team has missed the postseason tournament for the past nine seasons, and worked their way through three coaches during that time. The Metropolitan Division will be a meat grinder again this season, and if the Hurricanes are to compete they’ll need to take a substantial step forward.