Stu on Sports activities: Blissful 20th birthday to Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi is not an adolescent.

The Canadiens’ — or the Laval Rocket — centre turned 20 on Monday.

I admit I’ve a tender spot for Kotkaniemi, partly as a result of I’ve a son who’s 19 and I discover it outstanding how nicely Kotkaniemi has dealt with all of the stress he has confronted since being chosen third total by the Canadiens on the 2018 NHL Draft. He has needed to regulate to a brand new nation, a brand new language, a brand new staff and a smaller rink since leaving Finland as an 18-year-old and has finished all of it with a smile, a terrific sense of humour and an intelligence, each on and off the ice, past his years.

There are occasions whereas adjusting to his new life that Kotkaniemi has made me neglect he was nonetheless an adolescent — till I remembered he was the identical age as my son.

Earlier this 12 months, my son, who’s in CEGEP, was working part-time at a grocery retailer close to the Canadiens’ observe rink in Brossard, packing baggage, and so on. In the future whereas packing baggage, my son appeared up and realized it was Kotkaniemi’s groceries he was packing. Kotkaniemi was sporting a toque pulled down low and, surprisingly, no one else within the retailer, together with the cashier, had acknowledged him.