'Canes send All-Star goalie down -- again

Goaltender Arturs Irbe, who two years ago helped lead the Carolina Hurricanes to its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, was assigned to Johnstown, Pa., of the ECHL on Thursday.

Irbe, a two-time All-Star, was just 7-24-2 with a 3.18 goals-against average last season as the Hurricanes went from first to last in the Southeast Division. He spent part of last season in the American Hockey League with Lowell.

The 36-year-old Latvian led the NHL with 77 games in the 2000-01 season, when he was 37-29-9 with a 2.45 GAA. The following campaign he was 20-19-11 with a 2.54 GAA as Carolina lost in five games to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

In 558 career games, Irbe is 213-234-78. Only Detroit's Dominik Hasek has more wins among European-born goalies.

Irbe will be available for Johnstown's season opener Friday against Toledo. Kevin Weekes, who split time with Irbe during the 2002 playoffs, has been in the nets in each of the first three games for Carolina (0-2-1). Jamie Storr has been the backup.