Arber Xhekaj has quickly become one of the most popular players in the NHL. And it’s no wonder, thinking about what a crazy journey it’s been for him. Just two years ago, he worked at Costco and didn’t have much hope of making it in the NHL.
He was passed in the NHL Draft for three straight years and had to work to finance his hockey camps. Since Covid shut down most leagues under the NHL, he couldn’t show any scouts that he has what it takes to make it.
But in October 2021, Xhakaj was signed by the Montreal Canadiens, and after a great year in the OHL, where he was loaned out to the Kitchener Rangers, he got the chance during Canadiens’ camp last summer, and he proved to be worthy of a place in the NHL.
And from there, Xhekaj has quickly risen in popularity.
He’s a rookie but doesn’t play like one. It’s the first year in the big league, but he doesn’t act like it.
He’s in fights, chirps star opponents, and plays excellent defensive hockey. Xhekaj’s size allows him to play the physical game, and he’s already proven that he’s not afraid of anyone.
But it’s not just for his work on the ice that fans absolutely adore him. He’s perhaps the most humble guy in the league and always true to himself. On Wednesday, Sportsnet aired a short documentary about Xhekaj, his family, and his way to the NHL. In the documentary, Xhekaj revealed how he spent his first every paycheck as an NHL player, proving just how humble he is.
Most players buy a car, a watch, or something like that with their first big payroll. But not Xhekaj. Instead, he went straight to Costco.
He went there to buy his parents appliances. We’re talking about a new washer, dryer, refrigerator–you name it.
”At first I wanted to give them a large amount of money, they deserve it so much, but I know they wouldn’t have wanted to accept it,” Xhekaj said.
How could you not love him?