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Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Updated: May 8, 2:53 PM ET
Hurricanes' Irbe clears waivers, headed to minors

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Goaltender Arturs Irbe cleared waivers Tuesday, meaning one of the stars of the Carolina Hurricanes' surprising run to the 2002 Stanley Cup finals will be sent to the minors.

Carolina placed the slumping Irbe on waivers Friday, hoping to dump the $5.2 million owed him over the next two seasons. Any of the other 29 teams in the NHL could have signed Irbe.

Irbe angered management early in the season when he asked to play regularly or be traded after losing his starting job to Kevin Weekes.

"He has been a great player for our organization and he was a huge part of us going to the finals last year and the success that we had,'' assistant general manager Jason Karmanos said.

"Our intention here is not to blame Arturs Irbe for our year and the way it has gone. But we're trying to get this team structured for the future and at this point it doesn't include Arturs Irbe.''

Carolina has gone from Cup finalist to 14th overall in the East, winning just twice since Dec. 22.

Karmanos said Irbe will be sent to Lowell of the AHL after finishing a four-game West Coast road trip at Dallas on Tuesday night. The club will still try to move the 12-year NHL veteran by the March 11 trading deadline.

Irbe, in Dallas with the team, was not immediately available for comment.

"I'm not surprised at all,'' Irbe said. "The team was very professional and very good about it.

"I'm thankful to this team for what they've done for me. Hopefully, I can do more for the team. I'm sure the team will do what's in its best interest.''

The 36-year-old goalie won a franchise-record 125 games over the past five seasons. This year, the Latvian's record is 7-17-2 with a 3.06 goals-against average. His .884 save percentage is the worst in the league among goalies with at least 15 appearances.

Karmanos said the team will recall Patrick DesRochers to back up Weekes.