|6 марта 1998 года.
Irbe takes back seat yet again!
By GEORGE JOHNSON -- Calgary Sun
VANCOUVER -- Arturs Irbe is kind of like one of those roly-poly
Bozo the Clown punching bags every kid on your block used to own.
Knock him down, and he just keeps bouncing up again off the floor.
Kirk McLean. Bop! Bo-i-i-ng!
Sean Burke. Thump! Bo-i-i-ng!
And now Garth Snow. Crack! ...
"It's called perseverance," said Irbe, flattened again by the
latest Vancouver Canucks move.
"I still think I can be on top of the hill. As long as I want
to do that, to be there; as long as the desire remains, I'll keep trying.
"You cannot give up on yourself, no matter what.
"I've been in this position before. Often. This only adds strength
to my experience."
Irbe's glory days as Archie, the irrepressible little Latvian
who charmed the Silicon Valley, are long gone. The Sharks cut him loose
and so, after last season, did the Dallas Stars.
This year, he's had to contend with three goalies penciled in
ahead of him here in Vancouver.
His numbers -- 2.88 GAA, 10-7-2 record, .903 save percentage
-- have eclipsed whichever of them preceded or supplanted him.
And yet Mike Keenan felt it in his best interests to trade for
Snow, a potential No. 1.
The message is all-too-clear: Archie, an unrestricted free agent
at season's close, ain't our guy. Deep down, Irbe wonders why Keenan won't
either hand him the ball and let him run with it, or fumble.
But word in Vancouver is the main guy the Canucks hope to have
as their No. 1 guy is Mike Richter.
The veteran Rangers' stopper is a free agent after this season
and Keenan wants him.
Canucks owner John McCaw has the bucks to give him, so Keenan's
deal for Snow makes sense.
Dispatching Burke, who'd be after $4 million US a season and
who is also as an unrestricted free agent, made good business sense.
But once again, despite a fine performance as a Canuck, Irbe
appears to be a forgotten man.
"I look at this as a vote of confidence," argued Irbe yesterday,
not sounding overly convinced. "I mean, I wasn't the guy they dished off,
"Sean and my salaries ... well, they're not the same. I competed
with him. I'll compete with Garth. He's a good goalie. There are no lousy
goalies in this league.
"I'm starting from zero. Again. But that's OK. What am I going
to do? Cry?
"If you can't look at yourself in the mirror and say 'I'm a good
enough goalie to be No. 1' then you don't belong here. I was levelled in
San Jose but I thought I picked myself up and had a good year in Dallas.
"I still want to win a Stanley Cup. It could be here yet. Who
knows? Stranger things have happened.
"Yes, I'm 31 but I feel fresh, strong. My confidence was shot
in San Jose but it's back. I believe I can help some team, this team. I
have 20 or so games left to prove that. Again.
"I know one thing: I won't give up on Arturs Irbe."
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"Звёзды с Востока"