2 February 1967|
Riga, Latvian SSR, Soviet Union
|Height||5 ft 8 in (173 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
San Jose Sharks
HK Riga 2000
EC Red Bull Salzburg
SK Rīga 20
Hk Dynamax Oil Nitra
Soviet Union and|
196th overall, 1989|
Minnesota North Stars
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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. 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.
Last days in the NHL
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
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.
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 2008, Irbe signed a three-year deal with Dinamo Riga and worked as the goaltending coach for the club. 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. 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, but resigned a year after a dispute with president of Latvian Ice Hockey Federation Kirovs Lipmans over his coaching certification. In August 2014, Nolan again hired Irbe as an assistant, this time with the Buffalo Sabres.
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.
Bolded numbers indicate season leader
Regular season and playoffs
|1983–84||Latvijas Berzs Riga||USSR-3||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1984–85||Latvijas Berzs Riga||USSR-3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|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||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||Lowell Lock Monsters||AHL||7||3||3||1||—||427||21||0||2.95||.908||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|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||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
Bolded numbers indicate tournament leader
Super Series statistics
|Super Series totals||11||5||5||1||725||41||1||2.88|
|EJC Best Goaltender||1985 |
|WC Best Goaltender||1990|
|IIHF Hall of Fame||2010 |
|IIHF All-Time Latvia Team||2020|
|Rookie of the Year||1988|
|IHL First All-Star Team||1992|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy (IHL)||1992 (Shared with Wade Flaherty)|
|NHL All-Star Game||1994, 1999|
San Jose Sharks
|Player of the Year||1994 |
|ECHL All-Star Game||2004 (DNP, wrist injury)|
|San Jose Sports Hall of Fame||2010 |
- 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
- Hoppe, Bill (November 19, 2014). Brian Gionta's first goals lead Sabres past Sharks. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
- "The Barricade : Irbe Helped Latvia Stop Russians, and Now He Stops Shots for Sharks". Los Angeles Times. 10 May 1994.
- "Irbe Assigned To ECHL". Letsgocanes.com. 2003-10-16. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "Eastern Conference All-Stars Named". ECHL.com. 2003-12-18. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "Exile over, Irbe heads back to Carolina's crease". USA Today. 2004-02-18. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "Irbem piedāvā kļūt par Dinamo vārtsargu treneri". Apollo.lv. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- "Capitals Hire Arturs Irbe as Goaltending Coach". Capitals.nhl.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "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.
- Ingmārs Jurisons (2013-04-06). "Irbe LHF attieksmes dēļ aiziet no darba Latvijas izlasē" (in Latvian). sportacentrs.lv. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- Sabres hire coaches and add to Murray's staff Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine. WGR. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- "Buffalo Sabres Add Four Assistants to Coaching Staff".
- "Irbe papildina Kurbada treneru kolektīvu" (in Latvian). sportacentrs.lv. 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-23.
- Kids First Fund – Board of Directors
- "Latvijas karogu olimpiādes atklāšanā nesīs Irbe". Tvnet.lv. 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-30.
- "Awards". Legendsofhockey.net.
- "IIHF Hall Welcomes Five at IIHF.com". IIHF.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- "Marleau Voted "Sharks Player of the Year"". Sharks.nhl.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
- "San Jose Sports HOF Honors Irbe". Sharks.nhl.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
- "Retired NHL G Arturs Irbe suits up as Sabres' emergency backup". CBS Sports. November 18, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Artūrs Irbe at Hockey CCCP International
- Artūrs Irbe at HockeyGoalies.org
- Artūrs Irbe at the Latvijas Olimpiskā komiteja (archived) (in Latvian) (English translation)
- Artūrs Irbe at Olympics.com
- Artūrs Irbe at Olympics at Sports-Reference.com (archived)