Not too long ago, the San Jose Sharks had former goalie Arturs Irbe out to HP Pavilion where Irbe modestly tipped his cap to a throng of cheering Tank fans, many of whom grew up on his contributions to those early Sharks teams. This would be back in the days when guys like Kelly Kisio and Todd Elik roamed the ice for the Sharks.
I mean…we were in the freakin’ Smythe Division for Pete’s Sake! Do you even remember the Smythe Division?
Honestly, you think about those early 90’s teams and Irbe, “Like Wall!” and that too-weird-for-even-Chris-Osgood-to-wear mask he used to rock and you can’t help but get a little misty. Back when hockey men were men…and glorious mullets were worn by every last one of those men.
On that, I will see your Todd Elik and raise you a Johan Garpenlov. And don’t make me go Ulf Dahlen, because I am not scared to go Dahlen if I have to or even lob a little Gaetan Duchesne in your direction if need be…AND I’ll be playing “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base in the background while I’m doing it. How does that feel? Better yet, maybe I’ll get Bob Errey to DJ.
Back to the Latvian Wall, for those of you who missed the Irbe years and are trying to understand the hold that this goalie had on San Jose fans, consider some of his interactions with the first true rival of the Sharks, the Detroit Red Wings. Up first, here’s a little exchange with Keith Primeau…
Just holding my ground Keith. From the same playoff series, who can forget this little exchange with Dino Ciccarelli…
Back then, the Red Wings were every much the “Scut Farkas” to the early Sharks “Ralphie” and seeing Irbe stand up to the neighborhood bully with gusto made him an instant hero to fans.
And there it is. There’s just no way to watch “A Christmas Story” as much as I did over the Holidays and avoid a reference. I’m just a little surprised it took so long. All time greatest movie over the date range of December 20 to December 25 in the history of mankind.
In closing, here’s a great reel of the man, including some great fan love, a few splits that would make any man cringe and the always popular face save. Arturs Irbe is and always will be…“Like Walllllll”!
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