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Kings' Justin Williams has his edge ever sharp

Kings' Justin Williams has his edge ever sharp
Kings right wing Justin Williams takes a break during a practice last month in El Segundo. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Hockey history made a house call in June, in the days after forward Justin Williams and the Kings won the Stanley Cup.

Williams, as the most valuable player of the playoffs, took home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

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His name goes on the shiny relic along with the likes of legends and past winners Jean Beliveau, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

"I had that thing on the kitchen table a couple of days after and I was just looking at the names," said Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, still looking impressed in a September interview. "I've got three layers of cake with the Stanley Cup and some icing on top with the Conn Smythe.

"Yes, I want more. But I'm really proud of that. I'm proud to be part of history forever."

The future — in the form of the regular season — is fast approaching, with the Kings' opener set for Oct. 8 against San Jose Sharks. There will be the Stanley Cup banner raising and the accompanying bells and whistles, though slightly reduced in length from two years ago.

But an appreciation of Williams is in order, just in time for his 33rd birthday Saturday. At the NHL level, he is the most-decorated of all the Kings, having won the Conn Smythe and three Stanley Cups, two with the Kings and one with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has won two Cups and one Conn Smythe, in 2012.

If Williams and the Kings win again in June, he might receive another nickname, Mr. Stanley Cup, sharing time with another tag, Mr. Game 7. He isn't overly fond of the nickname, but it is hard to shake after these stats: 7-0 in Game 7s with seven goals and 14 points, an NHL record for Game 7s.

Williams showed his competitive nature when talking about his next act, now that he's been to the NHL's top on three occasions.

"You get here because of that," he said. "You win and you just want to keep winning. You love winning, but I hate when people get the better of me. I don't know what drives me more, the hate of losing to somebody or winning.

"I don't know what the level is. But both are important to me."

Those traits and values of hard work and perseverance were front and center when Williams brought the Stanley Cup home to Cobourg, Canada, a town of about 18,000 in southern Ontario. There was a parade and Williams gave an inspirational speech — focusing on the kids in the audience — and thanked everyone who had supported him.

The pride Cobourg has in Williams is enormous. There will be visible signs entering the town, noting it is the home of Stanley Cup champions Williams and Steve Smith.

Longtime hockey reporter Chris Johnston of Sportsnet grew up in Cobourg, in fact; he and Williams were born 12 days apart. He explained how much Williams' winning the Cup and bringing it home meant to the community.

"It's like boy comes home and makes good," Johnston said. "It makes everyone there feel like the real world is not as far away as it seems."

The youngster in Williams was easy to see when he talked about returning to his hometown with the Cup. He did so when he won the Cup with Carolina but wasn't able to do it in 2012.

"They've been very supportive, especially through the playoffs," Williams said. "I'm from a small town and they supported me a lot. I didn't do too much for the public the first time I won it."

Williams, smiled, adding: "I just assumed I'd win it every year.… It was certainly nice. The only thing you want when you have a parade is for people to show up and they did show up. I was humbled and moved by that."

For Williams, there will be extra motivation in coming months. Williams, along with center Jarret Stoll and defensemen Alec Martinez and Robyn Regehr, will be unrestricted free agents after this season. Additionally, Kings will have to deal with half a dozen restricted free agents next summer.

"I've been around long enough ... I'm not going to let it bother me, it's not going to impact how I play," Williams said. "But it's going to give me added incentive to perform."

Said Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi: "We're going to work our way through it because we've got a number of guys up. We've got to figure out a way to fit it all in. You don't do just one contract …that's the hard part. It's not like the old days where you just do one.

"This is going to be a challenge. You don't just look at one guy. We'll start chipping away at it."

Twitter: @reallisa

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