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.