Arturs back home in Riga has been drinking too much "wodka". In an interview with Russia's Izvestia, Arturs Irbe is still of the view that even the much-favoured Detroit Red Wings could have lost the Stanley Cup finals to Carolina.
"It all could be different if it wasn't for the accident in the third overtime" (where Detroit's Igor Larionov scored within seconds of tying Edmonton Oilers' Petr Klima's record for the longest OT in the Stanley Cup finals).
"Till then, Detroit had no idea how to beat us," Irbe said.
"During the month February, we had a series of meetings, to debate how to organize our play better, to achieve the best result. We have agreed on a defensive model, giving up attractiveness for effectiveness, even though I have heard that some experts find our game quite attractive, too.
"The idea is simple: your oppoent can't score on you if he doesn't have the puck. We agreed that we should win more than our share of battles in the corners, that we should keep the puck longer, especially by the boards. Having set a direction, there was no panic after losses, but there was no euphoria after victories, either," Irbe said.
Irbe said he's eager to find out whether the Hurricanes have got what it takes to build on their success, but he has faith: "Yes, there've been some changes, but the basic, core group has remained almost intact. That fills me with hope we're going to show everybody we're not a just one-season shocking wonder."
No matter what, however, Irbe's not ready to retire yet; after all, compared to the 41-year-old Larionov, at 35, Irbe is still a young pup.
"I'll play so long as my health lets me," irbe said. "I hope to play at least four more years, so I can play for my country in the 2006 world championships, back home, in Riga."