Aliaksei Protas’ Billet Dad, Who Created The ‘Viper’ Nickname, Is Happy To See New Protas Bobblehead

Photo: Jeff D’Andrea/paNOW Staff

It’s arguably the coolest nickname attached to any of the Capitals’ current prospects.

Aliaksei Protas, the 6’-6” center from Vitebsk, Belarus, was tabbed with the nickname “The Viper Of Vitebsk” while playing for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. However, the nickname didn’t come from one of his teammates, or one of his coaches. No, the slick moniker came from home.

Being A Billet

We first profiled Aliaksei Protas’ billet family (here) last October. In the interview we asked Roger Page, Protas’ billet dad, to provide a little background on the billet family’s role in support of a young hockey player.

“As our team is made up of players that almost always call other cities/provinces and even countries home, these guys need a place to call home while they’re in our city playing hockey. Families that indicate interest to the team are then vetted, and if found to be a good fit, will be set up with a billet player. The team (in this case, the Raiders) gives a small honorarium to help offset some of the costs incurred.”

Enter The Viper

Pagé came up with ‘The Viper’ nickname while watching one of Protas’ earliest skates with the Raiders at the start of the 2018-19 season. The tag has remained with Protas ever since.

“Seeing him move like that down the ice, and that quick release that he had, that snap from the hashmarks, I said ‘that’s a strike’ and it just kind of went from there—’The Viper of Vitebsk,’ it just kind of rolled off my tongue,” Pagé told paNow

A Ssssssssweet Tribute

And now the Raiders are paying tribute to Protas and his reptilian moniker in the form of a new bobblehead which features Protas holding a large snake around his shoulders. The “Viper” bobblehead was first made available at the Raiders’ preseason game on Friday against the Saskatoon Blades.

When Pagé found out the Raiders were making the Viper bobblehead, he couldn’t contain himself.

“I was excited, probably a little too much for a grown adult,” chuckled Pagé.

Continued Support

Roger continues to be one of Aliaksei’s biggest supporters. Even though Protas’ time in Prince Albert was cut short by the COVID pandemic (which allowed Aliaksei to play in the KHL last season), Roger continues to support his former billet son as he climbs the ranks in chase of his NHL dream.

Photo: Jeff D’Andrea/paNOW Staff

“To this day, I don’t know if he really likes it, but it’s taken a life of its own. He smiles whenever he hears it, so if that smile’s because he’s gritting his teeth, or if that smile is genuine, it’s taken a life of its own. It’s him,” Pagé said.

Once again, thank you to Roger, Kim, Brooklyn and Cailin Pagé for all you’ve done in supporting Aliaksei as he chases his dream. We can’t wait to see you in Washington.

By Jon Sorensen

Related Reading:
A Look At The Billet Family Life With Capitals Prospect Aliaksei Protas
Interview with Aliaksei Protas

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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