Arber Xhekaj hasn’t been around his teammates long, but the Montreal Canadiens rookie defenceman has certainly left an impression.
It’d be impossible not to.
The 21-year-old blueliner, who has suited up for each of Montreal’s first four games this season, stands at a rugged 6’4″ and 238 pounds and leads the club with 16 hits.
That’s some good strength.
His nickname claims the same.
Xhekaj, signed as a free agent by the Habs after going undrafted after three seasons with the Kitchener Rangers and Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League, has been handed the league’s best nickname despite his brief run in the league.
“You know how a wifi password usually looks something like my last name?” Xhekaj explained to Eric Engels of Sportsnet.
Me to Xhekaj: You need to come up with a more creative nickname for 'Slaf.'
Xhekaj: Working on it.
Me: What's yours? 'X?'
Xhekaj: Yeah, and some guys call me 'Wifi'
Xhekaj: You know how a wifi password usually looks something like my last name?
Me: Now that's creative!
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) October 18, 2022
The moniker was given to him by veteran blueliner and d-partner Chris Wideman, dubbing the much younger, much taller Xhekaj with the unique tag that doesn’t contain the traditional abbreviation with an “s” or “ey” added to the end.
But Xhekaj, pronounced JAK -igh according to the NHL’s official guide, isn’t the only one having some (nick)name issues in Montreal.
Juraj Slafkovsky, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, hasn’t quite had his teammates nail down his name yet fully, either. While a new nickname for “Slaf” might be around the corner, spelling lessons might be in line for his linemates, according to a hilarious new video released by the Canadiens.
Turns out his new crew can’t seem to get a full handle on spelling Slafkovksy, just yet.