Montreal Canadiens rookie Arber Xhekaj (nickname “WiFi”) knows how to make a first impression.
Xhekaj manhandled Arizona Coyotes’ power forward Zack Kassian in a fight Thursday night at Bell Centre. The Habs were hosting the Yotes in their third home game of the 2022-23 season.
Xhekaj was playing in just his fifth career NHL game. The 21-year-old defenseman was undrafted and signed a three-year entry-level contract with Montreal back in 2021. He didn’t make the starting lineup until this year.
Xhekaj might not have much NHL experience, but he doesn’t back down from a challenge. Arizona’s Zack Kassian challenged Xhekaj to a fight early in Thursday’s game, and Xhekaj made sure Kassian regretted it.
Xhekaj beat up on the NHL veteran Kassian, landing several punches before wrestling the ex-Oiler down to the ice. To top it all off, Xhekaj motioned to the Habs’ fans at Bell Centre to get up off their feet.
Check out Xhekaj fighting Kassian in the clip below. You wouldn’t guess that this was a 21-year-old kid only beginning his NHL career.
Montreal rookie Arber Xhekaj gets the better of Zack Kassian in a fight pic.twitter.com/KMZvjURqmL
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 20, 2022
If you couldn’t tell by the crowd noise, Xhekaj immediately became a fan favorite in Montreal. Kassian has a reputation for being a borderline dirty player and has turtled in some previous fights. Montreal fans love that Xhekaj pummeled him.
Xhekaj brought that same energy to his post-game press conference. Even though he’s one of the youngest NHL players, he isn’t afraid to fight longtime veterans like Kassian.
“If anybody wants to challenge me, I’m not going to back down. That’s a big statement from me”, Xhekaj told reporters after the game.
Kassian has fought almost 40 times throughout his NHL career, so it’s impressive that Xhekaj was able to get the better of him and bring him down to the ice.
Xhekaj has earned the nickname ‘WiFi” due to his name sounding like a generic wifi password behind a router. His teammates already loved him, and now the Habs fans do as well.
Montreal appears to have a good one in Arber Xhekaj.