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Caps Hire Irbe as Goalie Coach

They go way back. Jose Theodore and Arturs Irbe shake hands after Game 6 of the 2002 Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Habs and the 'Canes. (Getty Images)

The Caps have hired Arturs Irbe as their new goalie coach, the team announced this morning. Irbe replaces Dave Prior, the man who recommended the drafting of prospects Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth. Prior coached the organization's goalies for 12 seasons; he stepped down for family reasons.

Irbe, who led the Hurricanes to the Cup finals in 2002, will be an NHL assistant for the first time.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 13, 2009; 8:34 AM ET
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Next: Boudreau: Theodore Enters Camp as No. 1


Latvians rule!

Posted by: alagarts | August 13, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Was this a surprise to you too Tarik, eh?

Posted by: hock1 | August 13, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Good thing he speaks Russian!

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I am sad to see Prior go, I wish the best for him and his family. He helped produce great goalies and better than average backups. I hope Irbe can have the same success as with Varly, Nuvie, and Holtby.

Posted by: caps512 | August 13, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Great move by caps. This is an obvious move to make Varly feel comfortable and not have any communication problems as Irbe speaks Russian.

Posted by: lightshow | August 13, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I heard an interview with Kevin Weekes where he said Irbe would repair his own pads with a needle and thread on the plane between cities.. and he was real anal about it. I like it! Nutty goalies are the best kind.

Clearly the front runner for ugliest mask ever, too.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 13, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

What I like about Irbe besides his Russian fluency is he was a great competitor. Doesnt exacty have the best numbers overall but in big games he played well both for the Canes in the Cup finals run and internationally for Latvia. If he can pass that on to our goalies, would be nice.

Posted by: alagarts | August 13, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

irbe= like wall

hope he doesnt convince our goalies to wear the stupid cooper cage masks like he (and osgood still does) wore.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 13, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Nice Interview with the newest addition to the Caps Staff....

Aurthers Irbe

Posted by: whsqb10 | August 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: whsqb10 | August 13, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

OMG!!! I just found out about this through Twitter and almost fell off my chair. Arturs is my all time favorite player, from my home town, whom I followed from the time he was an 18-year old rookie with Dinamo Riga. What are the chances that my favorite team hires my idol? That's insane! Can I possibly like the Caps anymore than I already did? This is crazy!

P.S. Sorry for sounding like a giddy 13-year old girl at her favorite boy band concert, but that's pretty much how I feel right now.

Posted by: ranndino | August 13, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

It takes two Irbe's standing on each other's shoulders to equal one Olie.

I'm sure he'll be a passable coach, but I spent a decade in the Bay Area and didn't think much of him as a goalie with the Sharks.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | August 13, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

since the Caps are doing all of this upgrading, when are we gonna upgrade our GM???

Posted by: doughless | August 13, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Figured I'd post a few tidbits since I know so much about him.

Irbe also used to run over his pads with the team bus to break them in and make them slightly wider.

His nickname was Archie.

Yes, he speaks fluent Russian.

He came on the scene in Riga in spectacular fashion. Our #1 goalie back then was Viktor Samoylov, who was one of the best in the old Soviet league at the time. No one knew who our backup was so when Samoylov got injured half way through our season we thought we were screwed. In comes this unknown 18-year old, Arturs Irbe, and plays out of his freaking mind stopping everything in sight. He ended up leading us all the way to the Soviet league playoff final that year and became an instant folk hero. It was our best franchise finish ever as Dinamo Riga was always an average club in the old Soviet league.

Irbe is an amazing person. Very intelligent, genuinely nice, well rounded, etc. As good as they come. Great hire by the Caps and should be really helpful for Varlamov.

Posted by: ranndino | August 13, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

@ oldtimehockey

You must've missed one of the most incredible playoff runs in the history of the NHL when the expansion Sharks knocked out Detroit in round 1 and almost made it to the Conference finals with Irbe in goal. He was also an integral part of the Cup winning Carolina team. Obviously I'm biased, but IMO he was a much better goalie than people give him credit for. His size was seen as a negative by many NHL coaches who wouldn't give him a fair shake, but he never gave up on any shots and fought like hell to keep the puck out of the net making a ton of absolutely mind boggling saves. He also had a great record (in the games that he played) with a terrible Vancouver team in his time there.

@ doughless

Our GM is the one who's making these upgrades. IMO, he's doing a great job. If he could only find a way to shed Nyls' cap hit I'd kiss his feet.

Posted by: ranndino | August 13, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I should make a correction before someone jumps on my back. I meant to say that Irbe was an integral part of Carolina's run to the finals when the eventually lost to Detroit. Cam Ward was the goalie who started for the Canes when they won the Cup.

Posted by: ranndino | August 13, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

i have just one word. Awesome.

old time hockey.
you're just an ignorant fool.

What do you know about playing goal? Not a damn thing.

Posted by: MNMNT | August 13, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse


That would be my hometown as well. Nice! :)

Posted by: alagarts | August 13, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse


It's about darn time the Caps replaced Dave Prior as Goaltending Coach. The man was horrible and ruined more of our prospects than he helped. Irbe was a great player and has the potential to be a great coach. Best of luck to him.

Posted by: fedup34 | August 13, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The 1994 Sharks playoff run (knocking off the Presidents Trophy winners (Detroit, which featured a beyond-loaded lineup including Fedorov in his prime) in round 1, and coming within a goalpost in OT of game 6 against Toronto of making it to the Conf. Final against Vancouver) was of Irbe's doing.

Irbe did extremely well despite being quite small (short) for current NHL standards. Look at video with him with his gear compared to what we have now; it's astounding how much bigger the equipment is now.

Posted by: jcurrin | August 13, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I never realized he was so short. He's actually a couple inches shorter than Theo.

Posted by: wis193 | August 13, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Who knows? There are plenty of good players that suck as coaches and plenty of crappy ones that are great coaches.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | August 13, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Dave is a class act....Irbe has a tough act to follow....GOOD LUCK DAVE

ps...another great GMGM move

Posted by: CB28031 | August 13, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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