Major statement: The Canadiens came very close to losing Arber Xhekaj permanently

Published October 12, 2023 at 6:37 PM
BY ELIAS
Never drafted in the OHL, nor in the NHL, Arber Xhekaj's journey is certainly one of the most beautiful stories with the Montreal Canadiens. Indeed, while nobody believed he had the necessary skills to become a dominant defender in the NHL, the 22-year-old managed to convince the Montreal top brass at training camp last year.

However, in a recent interview, the Tricolore's number 72 explained how he managed to get a three-year contract with the organization. Arber Xhekaj notably admitted that he had begged the leaders to give him a second chance after having a very difficult meeting during the preparatory matches, a request that was finally accepted since Luke Richardson had high expectations for the defender.

'When he arrived at the Canadiens' main camp after the 2021 rookie camp, Xhekaj admitted that he was far too impressed by some of the Toronto Maple Leafs' best players (and he really played a bad game), so the next day, he went to see assistant coach Luke Richardson after his very difficult game and asked to play one more game.'

...


'I asked the coaches because I knew they were going to send me home and maybe release me after that because I really played a bad game.

I asked them to play one last game before they released me. I told them I needed one last game to prove to them what I was really capable of. I had nothing to lose by asking them. If they said no, oh well, I would have tried elsewhere, but if they said yes, well, I was going to have one last chance to convince them to sign me.

And they finally gave me one more game, it was my best game, and the rest is history. I ended up signing a contract with the Canadiens.' - Arber Xhekaj

Wow! Imagine if Kent Hughes had refused his request and released him after his first game in a Canadiens' uniform.

His story is simply incredible, as he has now become an essential element within Martin St-Louis's lineup. We can also thank the former assistant coach, Luke Richardson, for always having confidence in his potential.


Credit: Habs et LNH
WOULD YOU TRADE ARBER XHEKAJ IF AN NHL GENERAL MANAGER OFFERED A FIRST-ROUND PICK TO KENT HUGHES?
OCTOBER 12      208 ANSWERS
YES2210.6 %
NO18689.4 %
  LIST OF POLLS
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