Georges Laraque Drops a Bomb on the Canadiens and Arber Xhekaj

Published December 4, 2023 at 4:22 PM

Arber Xhekaj's demotion to the Laval Rocket is a hot topic among Montreal Canadiens fans.

Jayden Struble's strong performances during Xhekaj's absence have significantly influenced this decision, and it could have an even greater impact than expected.

During his midday show on BPM Sports, Georges Laraque made a concerning statement about the Canadiens' number 72. Laraque, a former NHL enforcer, believes that coach Martin St-Louis has altered the young defenseman's playing style.

"Before, Xhekaj was playing well, scoring important goals, being physical, dropping the gloves, and being an intimidating factor. After a game the Canadiens lost, Martin lost it and scolded him, saying he was too aggressive. Since that game, Xhekaj hit less and was less physical for fear of drawing penalties. A Xhekaj who doesn't hit and isn't intimidating is not the same as the Xhekaj from earlier in the year."

- Georges Laraque


In a way, Laraque is right to point out that if Xhekaj loses his unique identity, his presence in the defensive squad becomes much less essential.

If St-Louis aims to change Xhekaj's nature, it is indeed worrying. However, I don't believe the coach is necessarily trying to do that. Nevertheless, the arrival of a player like Struble, who does everything right on the ice, could affect Xhekaj's mindset, as well as that of the team's management.

But Laraque didn't stop there. He also suggested that seeing Xhekaj leave the Canadiens has become a very plausible reality, given the organization's surplus of left-handed defensemen.

"When I talk about changing a player, it starts with this (being sent to Laval), and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't finish the year in Montreal."

- Georges Laraque

He concludes by mentioning that if the Canadiens continue to manage well and Xhekaj's absence is not too noticeable within the team, it could mean the end for one of the crowd's favorites.

You can listen to the full segment here:

December 4   |   152 answers
Georges Laraque Drops a Bomb on the Canadiens and Arber Xhekaj

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