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HABSLATEST  /  HOCKEY LEAGUES  /  AHL
Photo credit: The Hockey News

Arber Xhekaj Continues to Lay Down the Law in Laval

Published December 21, 2023 at 12:34
BY AARON

While Arber Xhekaj faced some criticism in his first game with the Laval Rocket, he has since won over many with his recent performances. Nicknamed "The Sheriff," he's back in action, enforcing his presence on the ice night after night.

Since joining the farm team, the players under Jean-François Houle seem to have more freedom on the ice, thanks largely to the immense respect Xhekaj commands. Opposing players are simply afraid to target his teammates, fearing retaliation from number 72.

As Scott Matla points out, a recent example of Xhekaj's authority happened during a 3-2 victory over the Syracuse Crunch.

"Arber Xhekaj just pushed away someone who was too close to Rocket goalie Jakub Dobes after a save. The player turned around, saw who pushed him, realized it was Xhekaj, and just grabbed another Rocket player instead, quickly moving away from Xhekaj." - Scott Matla



This incident shows how much respect Arber Xhekaj commands from his opponents, who clearly do not want to confront the 6'4", 240-pound defenseman.

Although he has chosen to fight less since joining the American League, the 22-year-old defenseman continues to intimidate opponents. His physical presence alone changes how rival players interact with his teammates.

General Manager Kent Hughes of the Canadiens is likely pleased with this development. Xhekaj is reliable defensively and more disciplined, having received only one penalty in six games, while adding a level of toughness that the CH farm team previously lacked. He has also contributed offensively, recording three assists.

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Arber Xhekaj Continues to Lay Down the Law in Laval

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