Arturs Irbe will not be returning to the Capitals for the 2011-12 season, the team confirmed Thursday. A team spokesman said that Irbe, whose contract will expire at the end of June, opted to leave for “family and personal reasons.”
Irbe’s time with the Capitals was his first NHL coaching job, coming after a year of coaching goaltenders for the KHL’s Dinamo Riga in his hometown and 13 seasons in the NHL. His departure was first reported on Twitter by Japer’s Rink.
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.
The Capitals plan to have a goaltending coach in place for the start of the 2011-12 season.