Battle for playing time between Theodore, Varlamov, and Neuvirth
According to Capitals' Insider:
Although Irbe will oversee all of the organization's goalies, including veteran Jose Theodore, his biggest responsibility will be polishing touted youngsters Semyon Varlamov, a Russian, and Michal Neuvirth, a Czech, into top NHLers.
At times last season, Varlamov's limited English made communication with the coaching staff difficult. That, however, will no longer be a problem since Irbe speaks English, Russian, and some German.
"I should be able to communicate with him in any language, whichever he prefers," said Irbe, a native of Latvia. "I hope it will be an asset to make it easier, the transition [to the NHL]."
GM George McPhee added, "The fact that he speaks different languages made us really think he would be a good fit for us. That helps a lot. There are some nuances to goaltenders that are difficult explain or decipher if there's a language barrier."
As for Theodore, he insists that he is ready for the starting spot.
"Right now Jose is the No. 1 guy, and the other two young men have got to come in and play the way they did last year and try to push him out," Boudreau said this morning at KCI. "Jose won 33 games for us last year, and like the year before when Cristobal Huet got hot down the stretch, Varly came in and did a great job where we just couldn't take him out."
"I don't see myself as a backup. My frame of mind was to enter the summer, my off-ice training, and the season as the No. 1 guy. [Whether] or not that was the case, that was going to be my approach. We all know in hockey, No. 1 is only a title. It's still on the ice that you have to earn your points."
All quotes in this article courtesy of Capitals Insider.