Artūrs Irbe

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Artūrs Irbe
Ice Hockey goalkeeper Irbe of EC Red Bull Salzburg.jpg
Irbe with EC Red Bull Salzburg in 2006
Born (1967-02-02) 2 February 1967 (age 55)
Riga, Latvian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Dynamo Riga
San Jose Sharks
Dallas Stars
Vancouver Canucks
Carolina Hurricanes
HK Riga 2000
EC Red Bull Salzburg
SK Rīga 20
Hk Dynamax Oil Nitra
National team  Soviet Union and
 Latvia
NHL Draft 196th overall, 1989
Minnesota North Stars
Playing career 1986–2008
Medal record

Artūrs Irbe (born 2 February 1967) is a Latvian professional ice hockey coach and former goaltender. Born during the Soviet era, Irbe played for various Soviet league teams and the Soviet Union national team before moving to North America in 1991. Irbe played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes. In 2004 Irbe returned to Europe to play until he retired in 2007. He has served as a goaltending coach with Dinamo Riga, the Washington Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres, as well as internationally with the Latvia men's national ice hockey team.

While serving with Buffalo in 2014 at the age of 47, he suited up after the injury of Michal Neuvirth to be the backup goaltender for Jhonas Enroth.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Irbe on a 2000 stamp of Latvia

Irbe was drafted in the 10th round, 196th overall by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

His first professional hockey team was Dinamo Riga of the Soviet Hockey League (from 1987 to 1991). After playing in only 2 games during the 1986–1987 season Irbe got a chance to become Dinamo Riga's number one goaltender during the 1987–1988 season when their starting goaltender and Olympic champion, Vitali Samoilov went down with a long term injury. In his only full professional season, Irbe was outstanding in helping Dinamo Riga make it to the finals of the Soviet Hockey League where they eventually lost to perennial Soviet champions CSKA Moscow. During this period he also played for the Soviet Union in the World Championships in 1989 and 1990. The Soviet team won those two championships and Irbe was honoured as the best goalkeeper of the 1990 tournament. He refused to play for the Soviet Union in 1991 because Latvia had proclaimed independence from the Soviet Union on 4 May 1990 and the Soviet government attempted to use military force in January 1991 to stop Latvia's independence. When the Moscow government sent tanks rolling to Riga, Irbe was among those who took to the streets and put up barriers to protect buildings, radio stations, TV towers and historical landmarks.[2]

In the 1988–89 season, Irbe travelled to North America with his then club Dinamo Riga to play in a series of exhibition games against NHL teams. The next season (1989–90) he was temporarily added to the CSKA Moscow team during an exhibition tour of North America.

NHL[edit]

He began his playing career in America with the IHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, the Kansas City Blades. During the 1991-92 season with the Blades, he led the IHL in GAA, playoffs games played, playoffs minutes played, playoffs wins, playoffs most goals allowed, playoffs assists and playoffs penalty minutes, and led the team to win the Turner Cup league championship.

In the 1991–92, Irbe also played in 14 games with the Sharks, with whom he would remain until the 1995–96. With Irbe between the pipes, the newly established Sharks made their first playoff appearance in the 1993–94 season and upset the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings. That season, Irbe played an NHL record 4412 minutes in goal for the Sharks. Irbe, affectionately known as Archie, was nicknamed "The Wall" and became a cult figure in San Jose, a status he enjoys there to this day. Following an injury (his hand being mauled by his pet dog in the offseason) and a poor 1995–96 season, Irbe was released by the Sharks.

For the next two years, he was a backup goaltender for the Dallas Stars and the Vancouver Canucks (for whom he played significant stretches with ample success) until he became the starter for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1998–99 season. Irbe was picked to be a member of the World NHL All-Star team in the 1998–1999 season, where he became the first goalie to record an assist in an NHL All-Star game. The highest point of his career with the Hurricanes was 2001–02 when Irbe was instrumental in leading the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup finals where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings.

Demotion to ECHL[edit]

After a disappointing 2002–03 season, the Hurricanes looked to demote Irbe because they could not move him due to the no-trade clause in his contract. On October 16, 2003, Irbe was assigned to the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL.[3] After going 8–2–1 in 11 games with the Chiefs, Irbe was named as the starter for the Eastern Conference in the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game.[4] However, Irbe was unable to participate due to a wrist injury. On March 19, 2004, Irbe was recalled to the Carolina Hurricanes after goalie Kevin Weekes was placed on the IR list due to season-ending hand surgery.[5]

Last days in the NHL[edit]

Irbe played his last game in the NHL on April 4, 2004 against the Florida Panthers where he was replaced by Kevin Weekes in the third period after letting up six goals. The game would end in a 6–6 tie which would be the final tie in NHL history as the league moved to shootout in the following season in 2005–06.

In June 2004, he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but never played with the club due to that year's NHL lockout. After the lockout canceled the 2004–2005 season, Irbe never played in the NHL again but chose to continue his career in Europe.

Return to Europe[edit]

Irbe played for HK Riga 2000 in Latvia and EC Red Bulls Salzburg in Austria during the 2004–05 season. He signed with HK Dynamax Nitra playing in the Slovak Ice Hockey Extraliga, but he decided to leave after his unsatisfactory results.

Equipment[edit]

He is notable on the ice for his helmet and padding – he has worn them almost continuously since his NHL debut for the Sharks – which are creased and scuffed with puck marks and stains. He has earned the nickname "Michelin Man" as a result.

In the early 2000s, he placed an ad in the Ottawa Pennysaver seeking any local resident with the famed Jofa goaltender mask.

Coaching career[edit]

In 2008, Irbe signed a three-year deal with Dinamo Riga and worked as the goaltending coach for the club.[6] In August 2009, Irbe cut ties with Riga and decided to go back to North America to be the goaltending coach of the NHL Washington Capitals after former goaltending coach Dave Prior stepped down due to family reasons.[7] Irbe left the team on June 11, 2011, to spend more time with his family.

In 2013, Irbe was named as Ted Nolan's assistant for Latvian national team,[8] but resigned a year after a dispute with president of Latvian Ice Hockey Federation Kirovs Lipmans over his coaching certification.[9] In August 2014, Nolan again hired Irbe as an assistant, this time with the Buffalo Sabres.[10][11]

In August 2017, Irbe became consultant for Latvian hockey league club HK Kurbads.[12]

Personal[edit]

Irbe is also a member of board of directors of the Kids First Fund, a non-profit organization based in the United States which raises money for projects assisting abused and abandoned children in Latvia.[13]

At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Irbe was Latvia's flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies.[14]

Career statistics[edit]

Bolded numbers indicate season leader

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T OTL MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1983–84 Latvijas Berzs Riga USSR-3 1
1984–85 Latvijas Berzs Riga USSR-3
1985–86 RASMS Riga USSR-3 9 20
1986–87 RASMS Riga USSR-3 47 2643 134 3.04
1986–87 Dinamo Riga USSR 2 27 1 0 2.22
1987–88 Dinamo Riga USSR 34 1870 86 4 2.76
1987–88 RASMS Riga USSR-3 5 11 2.32
1988–89 Dinamo Riga USRR 40 2460 116 4 2.83
1989–90 Dinamo Riga USSR 48 2880 115 2 2.40
1990–91 Dinamo Riga USSR 46 2713 133 5 2.94
1991–92 Kansas City Blades IHL 32 24 7 1 1955 80 0 2.46 .911 15 12 3 914 44 0 2.89
1991–92 San Jose Sharks NHL 13 2 6 3 645 48 0 4.47 .868
1992–93 Kansas City Blades IHL 6 3 3 0 364 20 0 3.30 .876
1992–93 San Jose Sharks NHL 36 7 26 0 2074 142 1 4.11 .886
1993–94 San Jose Sharks NHL 74 30 28 16 4412 209 3 2.84 .899 14 7 7 806 50 0 3.72 .875
1994–95 San Jose Sharks NHL 38 14 19 3 2043 111 4 3.26 .895 6 2 4 369 32 0 5.20 .848
1995–96 Kansas City Blades IHL 4 1 2 1 226 16 0 4.24 .843
1995–96 San Jose Sharks NHL 22 4 12 4 1112 85 0 4.59 .860
1996–97 Dallas Stars NHL 35 17 12 3 1965 88 3 2.69 .893 1 0 0 12 0 0 0.00 1.000
1997–98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 41 14 11 6 1999 91 2 2.73 .907
1998–99 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 62 27 20 12 3643 135 6 2.22 .923 6 2 4 408 15 0 2.21 .917
1999–00 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 75 34 28 9 4345 175 5 2.42 .906
2000–01 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 77 37 29 9 4406 180 6 2.45 .908 6 2 4 360 20 0 3.34 .900
2001–02 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 51 20 19 11 2974 126 3 2.54 .902 18 10 8 1078 30 1 1.67 .938
2002–03 Lowell Lock Monsters AHL 7 3 3 1 427 21 0 2.95 .908
2002–03 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 34 7 24 2 1884 100 0 3.18 .877
2003–04 Johnstown Chiefs ECHL 14 10 3 1 847 30 1 2.13 .927
2003–04 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 10 5 2 1 564 23 0 2.45 .899
2004–05 HK Riga 2000 BXL 29 2.04
2005–06 HK Riga 2000 BXL 18
2005–06 EC Red Bull Salzburg AUT 17 9 6 1 1012 35 0 2.08 .914 10 2.53 .907
2005–06 HK Riga 2000 LAT 18 1.95
2006–07 SK Riga 20 LAT 4 0 4 0 240 21 0 5.25
2006–07 HK Dynamax - Oil Nitra SVK 6 1 2 3 249 22 0 5.31 .814
USSR totals 173 9859 451 15 2.74
NHL totals 568 218 236 79 32,066 1513 33 2.83 .899 51 23 27 2981 142 1 2.86 .902

International[edit]

Bolded numbers indicate tournament leader

Year Team Event GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1985 Soviet Union EJC 5 300 5 1.00
1989 Soviet Union WC 3 175 5 0 1.71
1990 Soviet Union WC 6 4 0 1 315 5 1 0.95 .950
1996 Latvia WC B 4 3 0 1 240 7 0 1.75 .933
1997 Latvia WC 5 4 0 1 300 10 1 2.00 .930
1998 Latvia WC 6 3 2 1 358 17 1 2.85 .893
1999 Latvia WC 4 2 2 0 238 12 0 3.02 .861
2000 Latvia WC 5 3 1 1 420 17 0 2.43 .906
2001 Latvia WC 6 3 2 1 360 13 2 2.17 .924
2002 Latvia OG 1 0 1 0 60 4 0 4.00 .862
2003 Latvia WC 3 2 1 0 180 9 0 3.00 .901
2004 Latvia WC 5 2 1 2 300 9 0 1.80 .925
2005 Latvia WC 6 2 3 1 283 7 2 1.48 .944
2006 Latvia OG 3 0 2 1 148 14 0 5.68 .833
Senior totals 53 3137 122 7 2.33

Super Series statistics[edit]

The Super Series were exhibition games between an NHL team and Soviet teams (usually a club from the Soviet Championship League). Irbe competed in two such series.

Year Team Event GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA
1988–89 Dynamo Riga Super-S 7 2 4 1 425 23 0 3.25
1990 CSKA Moscow Super-S 4 3 1 0 300 18 1 2.50
Super Series totals 11 5 5 1 725 41 1 2.88

Awards[edit]

International[edit]

Award Year
EJC Best Goaltender 1985 [15]
WC Best Goaltender 1990[15]
IIHF Hall of Fame 2010 [16]
IIHF All-Time Latvia Team 2020

Soviet[edit]

Award Year
Rookie of the Year 1988

IHL[edit]

Award Year(s) awarded
Turner Cup 1992
IHL First All-Star Team 1992
James Norris Memorial Trophy (IHL) 1992 (Shared with Wade Flaherty)

NHL[edit]

Award Year
NHL All-Star Game 1994, 1999

San Jose Sharks[edit]

Award Year
Player of the Year 1994 [17]

ECHL[edit]

Award Year(s) awarded
ECHL All-Star Game 2004 (DNP, wrist injury)

San Jose[edit]

Award Year
San Jose Sports Hall of Fame 2010 [18]

Transactions[edit]

  • June 17, 1989 – Drafted by Minnesota in the 10th round, 196th overall
  • May 30, 1991 – San Jose in National Hockey League dispersal draft
  • July 22, 1996 – Signed as free agent by Dallas
  • August 5, 1997 – Signed as free agent by Vancouver
  • September 10, 1998 – Signed as free agent by Carolina
  • February 8, 2003 – Placed on waivers by Hurricanes
  • June 16, 2004 – Traded by Hurricanes to Columbus Blue Jackets for future considerations
  • December 5, 2005 – Signed as free agent by Salzburg
  • November 18, 2014 – Signed as player-coach by Buffalo Sabres on an emergency backup contract[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoppe, Bill (November 19, 2014). Brian Gionta's first goals lead Sabres past Sharks. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "The Barricade : Irbe Helped Latvia Stop Russians, and Now He Stops Shots for Sharks". Los Angeles Times. 10 May 1994.
  3. ^ "Irbe Assigned To ECHL". Letsgocanes.com. 2003-10-16. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  4. ^ "Eastern Conference All-Stars Named". ECHL.com. 2003-12-18. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  5. ^ "Exile over, Irbe heads back to Carolina's crease". USA Today. 2004-02-18. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  6. ^ "Irbem piedāvā kļūt par Dinamo vārtsargu treneri". Apollo.lv. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  7. ^ "Capitals Hire Arturs Irbe as Goaltending Coach". Capitals.nhl.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  8. ^ "Irbe Latvijas hokeja izlasē kļuvis par Nolana palīgu" (in Latvian). ir.lv. 2013-04-06. Archived from the original on 2014-05-18. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  9. ^ Ingmārs Jurisons (2013-04-06). "Irbe LHF attieksmes dēļ aiziet no darba Latvijas izlasē" (in Latvian). sportacentrs.lv. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  10. ^ Sabres hire coaches and add to Murray's staff Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine. WGR. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  11. ^ "Buffalo Sabres Add Four Assistants to Coaching Staff".
  12. ^ "Irbe papildina Kurbada treneru kolektīvu" (in Latvian). sportacentrs.lv. 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  13. ^ Kids First Fund – Board of Directors
  14. ^ "Latvijas karogu olimpiādes atklāšanā nesīs Irbe". Tvnet.lv. 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-30.
  15. ^ a b "Awards". Legendsofhockey.net.
  16. ^ "IIHF Hall Welcomes Five at IIHF.com". IIHF.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  17. ^ "Marleau Voted "Sharks Player of the Year"". Sharks.nhl.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  18. ^ "San Jose Sports HOF Honors Irbe". Sharks.nhl.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  19. ^ "Retired NHL G Arturs Irbe suits up as Sabres' emergency backup". CBS Sports. November 18, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014.

External links[edit]