Tag: Arturs Irbe

Ted Nolan, Darcy Burchell

Trottier, Irbe highlight Ted Nolan’s Sabres coaching staff


Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan has filled out his coaching staff and it has a few familiar faces on it.

The Sabres announced they have hired Bryan Trottier, Danny Flynn, Tom Coolen as assistant coaches and Arturs Irbe as the goalie coach. As you might expect, Nolan is excited about the group he’s put together.

“I’m very happy with the group of talented hockey minds we were able to assemble for our coaching staff,” Nolan said. “Each one of these coaches brings an extensive and different background from the hockey world and I’m confident they will help get our team to where it needs to go this season.”

Trottier we’d heard rumors about him being brought on board from before. Same goes for Flynn, as Bill Hoppe at Buffalo Hockey Beat shared, who once worked with Nolan in junior hockey with the Soo Greyhounds and Moncton Wildcats.

Coolen was a part of Nolan’s staff with Team Latvia and was also a former head coach in Moncton, as Willy Pavlov at The Chronicle Herald shared.

Irbe should be familiar to NHL fans. He spent 13 seasons in the NHL most famously with the San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes. He led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 before losing to the Detroit Red Wings. He was also the Washington Capitals’ goalie coach from 2009-2011 where he worked with current Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth.

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: San Jose Sharks

Jeff Friesen

It’s not easy wearing teal but the San Jose Sharks have made it look good for over 20 seasons in the NHL. Of course, sometimes teal doesn’t always look so nice and when you’re perpetually coming up short of the Stanley Cup that stings a bit. Regardless, the Sharks stick with it through good and bad and look good while doing so.

Best: Ahh the Sharks. Forever in teal since their inception (hey, everyone needed a team in teal) and always with a menacing shark adorning their sweaters. Chances are you either love the design and the look or you hate it. As for me, my favorite remains the original road teal sweater. It’s the one they wore during their crowning moment as a franchise in beating the Detroit Red Wings in 1994 and it’s forever etched into everyone’s memory thanks to Arturs Irbe and Jamie Baker. Love teal or hate it, it set the tone for how to embrace such an odd sports color.

Worst: That said, sometimes teal is a bad thing and when the Sharks updated their look to make it look a bit more modern, it turned the classic road teal sweater into a teal, black, and gray clusterbomb of color. Sure the shark on the front stayed the same, but the dorsal fin patch that looked so good on the original sweater was gone and the font on the numbers and letters was switched up to make names look muddled on the back. Messing with a good thing is wrong. Making Owen Nolan look bad is never a good thing.

Embracing orange: Oddly enough, when the Sharks redid their look with the RBK Edge system sweaters, they added a color to help make things pop. Out went the gray and in came the hint of orange. By adding orange to their look and numbers to the front of the sweater along with a tweaked out new-ish logo, the Sharks were able to make something virtually brand new and old-school looking. The love for orange was official when fans were given orange rally towels during the playoffs last season. Respect earned.

Assessment: The Sharks current sweaters are nice. Well, except for the overly dull “BlackArmor” third sweater that sucks all the color and life out of their look. Being ashamed of who you are (and that’s a team whose main color is still teal) doesn’t invoke any sort pride at all. If you want to find something silly and nonsensical to blame the Sharks playoff loss to Vancouver on last season, blame it on the BlackArmor. If the Sharks did away with that, they’d be sitting pretty.

Arturs Irbe left Capitals job as goalie coach because he wanted to do more


Having an NHL-experienced goalie on your staff as the team’s goalie coach is a great thing to have, especially when you’ve got a host of young guys in net to coach. For the Washington Capitals, they had former San Jose Sharks star and Latvian superman Arturs Irbe to handle those duties.

This summer, however, Irbe decided to leave his position with the Capitals unexpectedly in early June. With having guys like Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth, and Braden Holtby to help mold into becoming stud goalies in the NHL, you’d think Irbe had the dream job to have. After all, it’s not as if the Caps were a losing team and Irbe’s tutelage was going to be useful with such a young stable of goalies.

As it turns out, Irbe had his eyes on something more like the American dream. Slava Malamud reports in The Washington Post that Irbe was looking to stretch his coaching abilities a bit further out than just with goalies.

“There were many positives in working for Washington,” Irbe added. “But If I continued to coach goalies there, sooner or later it would have turned into a routine. Plus, there were no opportunities for career growth at all.”

When asked what kind of opportunities he was looking for, Irbe shared this: “I had asked George McPhee whether I could hope for any kind of career growth over an indefinite period of time, to become an assistant coach, to increase my responsibility. But he answered that a goalie coach is the most secure job. They counted on my working with Capitals goalies for many years and that I would be satisfied with that. … Washington offered me a new deal but after a lot of thinking I had decided not to sign it.”

Sounds like Arturs may have had some unrealistic expectations about the NHL coaching market.

Looking to grow and expand your opportunities is something we can all identify with. Think of how many times you’ve found yourself at a job you liked and wanted to do more with what you were doing. Sometimes when you’re at one of the first jobs in your career you feel like you can contribute things to cure any and all the ills going on or add something more to the process to make things better.

Sounds like Irbe didn’t want to be shackled down by his position and held in place by the whims of “the man” and set himself free so as to not wind up being stereotyped the rest of his post-playing career. It sounds like something out of deep literature in how it transpired for Irbe and perhaps one day he’ll wind up being an assistant or head coach, but making that jump right away is almost impossible for anyone to do. Everyone  has to get their start someplace and for Irbe, starting out as a goalie coach is a nice beginning.

That said, McPhee was right in telling him that being a goalie coach is the most secure job to have in that market but coaching a position is vastly different than coaching a team when you’re juggling strategies and lines. You can’t begrudge a guy wanting to do more with his life and Irbe will hopefully get to live his hopes out somehow.

Washington Capitals make Olie ‘Godzilla’ Kolzig their new associate goalie coach

Olaf Kolzig

Olie Kolzig and Peter Bondra were the faces of the Washington Capitals franchise in the ’90s, so it only makes sense that the team will bring back their beloved netminder to shepherd their new breed. While it’s easiest to think of Kolzig’s days with Bondra, Chris Simon and Sergei Gonchar, his career did overlap with the Alex Ovechkin era a bit as well, so he should have some familiarity with the team.

The Capitals also noted that Dave Prior would return to the role of director of goaltending and NHL goaltender coach. Washington previously employed Arturs Irbe – another scrappy and popular goalie who made his biggest impact in the ’90s – but Irbe parted ways with the team about a week ago.

Washington must decide what direction it wants to go in at the goaltending position this summer. The team enjoyed the solid-to-strong work of three young goalies, with Michal Neuvirth tentatively taking on the top role as Semyon Varlamov struggled with injuries while Braden Holtby made an impression in limited starting opportunities. Varlamov is a restricted free agent, however, opening up the possibility that he might flee to the KHL (and, therefore, the thought that the Capitals might look to a veteran goalies this summer).

Whoever is available in net, Kolzig and Prior will help guide them. Here is what Capitals GM George McPhee said about hiring the goalie known as “Godzilla” (plus a summary of his NHL career).

“We are excited to add a familiar face to our staff in Olie Kolzig,” said McPhee. “Olie had a tremendous impact on this franchise as a goaltender as well as an individual, and we are looking forward to him having the same impact as a coach.”

Kolzig, 41, played in 711 games as a Capital from 1989-90 through 2007-08. He currently owns nearly every all-time Capitals goaltending record, including games played, wins (301), shutouts (35) and minutes (41,259) and ranks fourth (minimum 3,000 minutes played) in goals-against average (2.70) and third in save percentage (.906). In terms of single-season records, Kolzig leads in games (73), minutes (4,371), wins (41) and is second (minimum 1,200 minutes) in goals-against average (2.20), save percentage (.920) and shutouts (6).

The Johannesburg, South Africa, native was awarded the 2000 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goalie, and was named the 2005-06 King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner (awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community). He was also named to two NHL All-Star teams (1998 and 2000) as a member of the Capitals.

A former Caps first-round draft pick (19th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Kolzig helped guide Washington to its only Stanley Cup Final in 1998. During his final season with the Caps in 2007-08, Kolzig was teammates with several current Capitals, including captain Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. The three-time German Olympian (1998, 2002 – sat out due to injury and 2006) appeared in 719 career NHL games with Washington and Tampa Bay before retiring in September 2009.

Capitals part ways with goalie coach Arturs Irbe

Los Angeles Kings v Washington Capitals
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The Washington Capitals have enjoyed great work from their three young goalies during the 2010-11 season, but those inexperienced netminders will hear a different voice going forward. The Washington Post reports that goalie coach Arturs Irbe won’t return to the team in 2011-12, citing “family and personal reasons.”

The Post explains that the team will look for a new goaltending coach for next season.

It would be strange if that was a smoke screen to cover up the Capitals’ distaste for the job he did, because Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby played very well in the season. Katie Carrera points out the fact that Washington became the first team in NHL history to have three goalies 22 years or older earn at least 10 wins in the same season in ’10-11.

One cannot help but wonder if Irbe’s departure will affect Varlamov’s restricted free agent situation or if it’s even a sign that the young Russian goalie might not be back at all. Here’s a little more from Carrera.

The Latvia native was hired in 2009, in part because of his ability to speak Russian and communicate with Varlamov, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Whether Irbe’s departure plays a part in determining Varlamov’s future with the Capitals or impacts the continued progress of either Neuvirth or Holtby remains to be seen.