Montreal Canadiens: Arber Xhekaj Is Only 23 Years Old...Let's Collectively Take A Deep Breath

New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
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Marty Is Simply Challenging Xhekaj

Martin St. Louis
Montreal Canadiens v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

St. Louis's recent presser was so very uncomfortable. And any way that you cut it, it appears that Xhekaj hasn't impressed the Canadiens bench boss. He struggled to say anything positive about the Hamilton, ON native.

Stu Cowan, the Canadiens reporter for the Montreal Gazette had an article published on Thursday morning. Titled Arber Xhekaj remains a work in progress, the article delved into Xhekaj's handling by Marty. It can be misconstrued as a riff between head coach and player, but that simply isn't it.

Certainly Xhekaj was a very rare case of a player who went undrafted, then crack the NHL roster in the season directly after he aged out for junior hockey. He then played the full year with the Canadiens, without any issue. Year two, however, has proven to be more of a challenge, with consideration to Marty's increased expectations.

St. Louis mentioned that he would like to see Xhekaj increase his floor - essentially stressing the importance of him developing more consistency in his play. There is no reason to sugarcoat or mince words, which St. Louis didn't. The transparent approach mustn't waiver when the feedback is less than ideal, and Marty knows that best.

More than anything, St. Louis's belief in Xhekaj is very much there, and it's precisely why he has such heavy expectations for the player. I would be more concerned if St. Louis's perceived lack of consistency from Xhekaj wasn't openly discussed. This is the NHL, the best league in the world and you need to work every day to keep your job.

Fortunately for Xhekaj, all of the tools are there and he is no stranger to adversity. He has taken a similar route to the NHL as St. Louis; as an undrafted free agent. The work is far from done and I think the player is going to become a better player because of the coach's tactics.