The story of Arber Xhekaj is nothing but amazing. Just two years ago, he worked at Costco. He didn’t get drafted into the OHL or NHL. But last autumn, he signed a three-year, two-way contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
After a great year with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, he worked hard during the summer to get a jersey in the NHL. During pre-season, Xhekaj really made a name for himself. He chirped opponents and didn’t care a bit that they were star players in the league.
He got into fights, blocked shots, and to nobody’s surprise, he got a spot in the Canadiens NHL roster to start the season. Xhekaj has had a great start to the season, and in five games, he’s had one assist. But Xhekaj mostly brings some great physical presence to the Canadiens, and last night, he got into his first NHL fight.
Everyone was just waiting for it to happen, as he got into a couple of fights in the pre-season. But nobody could’ve guessed his first fight in the big league would be against a heavyweight like Zack Kassian.
Xhekaj and Kassian dropped the gloves and went at it, and Xhekaj, just 21-year-old, actually won the fight. Xhekaj didn’t seem to have any problems dealing with the Arizona Coyotes tough guy, despite him being one of the toughest guys in the league.
Xhekaj has gained praise from all over the place, but what actually triggered the fight? Xhekaj answered that question after the game.
“I was smiling at him on the faceoff. He asked me what I was laughing about. I said, ‘You.’ He gave me a shot. I asked him if he wanted one. He said, ‘Sure.’”
Xhekaj also answered whether Kassian said anything after the fight, and it turns out he got some praise even from the veteran.
“He said, ‘Good fight.’”