Photo credit: Chris Gordon

In his two seasons as goaltender coach with the Washington Capitals, Arturs Irbe was more than successful. The 44-year-old mentored the organization’s trio of young goalies last season — Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, and Braden Holtby — and under his watch the Capitals became the first team in league history with three goaltenders 22 or younger to have 10 or more wins in a season. His pupils were also recognized a number of times for stellar play by National Hockey League last year. Neuvirth was named NHL Rookie of the Month for October, Varlamov was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week ending January 3, 2011, and Holtby — a virtual wildcard heading into last season — was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week ending March 13, 2011.

Holtby, who may have evolved the most of the three during Irbe’s time in the organization, performed phenomenally as an injury replacement last year, going 10-2-2 with a .934 save percentage and a 1.79 goals against average.

So when word came out in early June that Archie was leaving the organization, many wondered why. Family and personal reasons were cited by the Capitals, which Olaf Kolzig backed up in an interview with Elliot in the Morning.

Today, Irbe gave his side of his story in a video interview with Kristaps Drikis of the Latvian Web site Sportacentrs.com. Thanks to a Russian translation by Sports.ru, RMNB’s Fedor Fedin offers it to you in English.

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Olie Kolzig

Kolzig smiles during his first press conference in D.C. as a coach (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Last Thursday, the Capitals’ new associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig joined Elliot Segal on DC101’s Elliot In The Morning. The former fan-favorite goalie spoke favorably about his new gig and dished out plenty of interesting information in the interview, including Phillipp Grubauer’s potential landing spot next season, Braden Holtby’s tough situation, his thoughts on free-agent signee Tomas Vokoun, and much, much more. Check it out below the jump!

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“Time heals all wounds.” – Olie Kolzig (Photo credit: Joe Lavelle)

Olie Kolzig is back! Three years after the fan favorite goalie lost his starting role to Cristobal Huet and left on bad terms the club with which he had spent his entire NHL career, Kolzig has rejoined the Capitals as associate goaltender coach. In his new role, Kolzig will assist Dave Prior, who regains the title of goaltender coach he gave up in 2009 to spend more time with his family. Arturs Irbe took over for Prior but decided not to return for the 2011-12 season, citing reasons similar to Prior’s when he left his coaching job.

“I’m ecstatic to finally come back basically to the place I call home — playing there for so long,” Kolzig told reporters on a conference call. “Being away for two years, I started to get the itch again to get involved again with hockey. … When Dave Prior called me a few weeks back and pitched the idea of coming back and being an associate goaltending coach and working with him, I thought there’s probably not a better person that I want to work with and an organization that I want to be back together with.”

And Kolzig wasn’t the only one who found it a perfect match.

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Nauris Enkuzens

According to the always reliable “sk84fun_dc” of HFBoards, two undrafted KHL players are participating in Capitals Development Camp this week.  Kristaps Sotnieks and Nauris Enkuzens are both Latvians, and both play for Dynamo Riga, one of the most hardworking teams in the KHL.  Dynamo Riga is known for their business savvy, seldom overpaying for players like other KHL teams do. Our very own goaltending coach Arturs Irbe spent several seasons with Dynamo as goalie,  which seems to imply that he’s the matchmaker here.

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