Hockey: Former Cobourg player plays with Kings
Cobourg’s own Justin Williams cuddles up to the Stanley Cup.
For Cobourg's Justin Williams and his LA Kings teammates, success was all about believing.
Reached at his residence in Los Angeles last week Williams said it’s been a whirlwind of activity since the Kings' Stanley Cup in Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils on June 11.
“It’s an exciting time, but it’s a busy time,” Williams said. “When you win the cup everyone wants a piece of it.”
Williams has been apart of two Stanley Cup winning teams, having played with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
“They’re both special in their own right,” he said of the wins.
“Any time you win a championship they are equally special. But here (Los Angeles) there are more people. I think during the parade in Carolina we had 30,000 people and the parade we had here we had 250,000 people.”
Though Carolina was a newer team and was located in more of a college basketball-oriented city, the residents embraced hockey.
“They were awesome,” Williams said.
“Now they don’t have as big of a fan base but they do a heck of a job and still one of the loudest arenas I’ve ever played was the RBC Centre in Game 7.”
The Los Angeles Kings hadn’t won a Stanley Cup in the 45-year history of the franchise.
“Fans were starved for it,” Williams said. “And the celebration that we got and the response that we got when we won is awesome.”
But it was a long road throughout the year for Williams and the rest of the team.
“The hardest part about the NHL season is just getting in (the playoffs),” he said.
“We felt coming into the season that we had a championship-calibre team. It just took us to the playoffs to realize.
“But as soon as we drew Vancouver in the first round and went into their barn and won game one we didn’t feel like the inferior team. We felt like we could beat anybody and we proved that, all the way through the playoffs.
“We started out as underdogs and slowly everyone started to believe.”
Williams said the hardest part of any series is closing it out.
“I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I thought we’d be ahead 3-0 in every single series we played this year,” he said. “I certainly didn’t anticipate being up 3-0 in the finals, but I did anticipate the fourth game being the hardest one to win and it was.
“It’s the Stanley Cup finals and the team is going to make you earn it.”
Williams once played for New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer. DeBoer was coach of the Plymouth Whalers when Williams was in the Ontario Hockey League in 1998 to 2000. He actually sent Williams down after he had made the team in his first year on the OHL.
“I wasn’t a big, highly touted prospect,” Williams said. “I was a sixth-round draft into the OHL. Halfway through the season he sent me down to the Tier II club and I played almost the rest of the season there. The next year I made the team and played well and the year after that I was in the NHL. It happened extremely quick for me. And I know Pete DeBoer is the reason for my success.”
Winning his first Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes was very special for Williams, as he had friends and members of his family at the game. But he says winning with the LA Kings even more memorable.
“Winning it the second time with your kids to celebrate it makes it extra special,” he said.
Each member of the team gets the Stanley Cup for a day, and Williams said he’s going to try to bring it to Cobourg again.
“We’re figuring out the days and what we’re going to do with it,” he said. “I’m certainly going to try.”
The two-time Stanley Cup winner has advice for the youth of today who live for the game of hockey.
“Your career and life isn’t going to go smoothly,” he said. “There are going to be bumps in the road. There are going to be times when someone says you’re not good enough, and I’ve certainly had those experiences, but I think all those experiences round out the type of person you become. You can’t listen to everybody, all you can do is listen to yourself and the people you care about and never give up.”