ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have hired Arturs Irbe as the organization’s goaltending coach, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Irbe replaces Dave Prior, who recently resigned after 12 years with the club to spend more time with his family.
Irbe, 42, is a native of Riga, Latvia, and served as the goaltending coach for his hometown Dinamo Riga last season in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has also worked with the Latvian national team, which he represented in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics. Irbe is also a former teammate of Capitals’ assistant coach Dean Evason, as both players were with the San Jose Sharks from 1991-93.
Irbe native is a 13-year NHL veteran and played for San Jose, Dallas, Vancouver and Carolina. He played in 568 games and compiled a career record of 218-236-79 while appearing in two NHL All-Star Games (1994, 1999). His last NHL season was 2003-04, and he finished his NHL career with a 2.83 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage. Irbe played professionally in Europe after he left the NHL and retired completely after appearing in six games with Slovakia’s HK Nitra in 2006-07.
Irbe is fluent in English, Latvian, Russian and also speaks some German. He was selected in the 10th round, 196th overall, in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars. He spent five years in the San Jose organization and made his NHL debut in the 1991-92 season when he appeared in 13 games. Irbe played in 74 games for the Sharks during 1993-94 and set an NHL record (since broken) by playing 4,412 minutes in the regular season. He spent the 1996-97 season with Dallas and the 1997-98 season with Vancouver before joining Carolina for the final six years of his career.
Irbe became a fixture in the Carolina net and played more than 50 games in each of his first four seasons with the Hurricanes. He registered career-best marks in GAA (2.22) and in save percentage (.923) during the 1998-99 season, his first with Carolina. He played a career high 77 games during the 2000-01 season and a year later he helped lead Carolina to the Stanley Cup final.