Younger hockey hounds may not remember former NHL goalie Arturs Irbe. I do, though, as he was among the first two dozen NHL players to provide the foundation of our 2000-plus autographed puck collection.
Back in 1996-97, after the Hartford Whalers headed south to North Carolina, Irbe was a consistent and friendly signer among the Hurricanes. As a result of that and his inspired play, the diminutive Latvian became one of my favorite NHL players. And now, some 14 years later, little has changed.
Not only did Irbe, the Washington Capitals' goaltending coach, sign these three pucks yesterday, but "Archie" was also gracious enough to reminisce a bit about those days when the Hurricanes played their home games at the Greensboro Coliseum.