Jesperi Kotkaniemi smiles a lot.
And, says occasional linemate Andrew Shaw, Kotkaniemi has good reason to smile. “He’s living the dream,” Shaw said. “Two or three years ago, did he think he’d be playing in the NHL as an 18-year-old? He’s still a kid, and he’s soaking it all in, especially around the holidays. He still believes in Santa Claus.”
It was Shaw who provided the Finnish rookie with a nickname. While coach Claude Julien got around the difficulties of pronouncing the teenager’s five-syllable surname (kaht-kan-ee-ehm-ee) by referring to him as ‘K-K,’ Shaw expanded on it and dubbed him ‘Kit-Kat.’
There are a lot of jokes in the Canadiens’ dressing room about Kotkaniemi’s age – he doesn’t turn 19 until July 6. But, as he has grown more comfortable with his surroundings, Kotkaniemi ...
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