InGoal talks with Phoenix goaltender about his new mask
Jason LaBarbera has long been known for his wrestling- and rock-and-roll-themed goalie masks, all designed and painted by Toronto artist David Arrigo.
This season the Phoenix Coyotes keeper decided to get more serious with his latest Arrigo design.
LaBarbera’s new mask features a camouflage military theme anchored by images of Pat Tillman, an all-American linebacker at Arizona State who became the starting safety for the Arizona Cardinals before leaving the NFL to enlist in the U.S. army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tillman was killed on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in April 2004.
“At the time I thought ‘wow, this guy is leaving something he has worked his whole life for, to go do something that he feels is the right thing to do and is the best thing for his country,’” said LaBarbera, also noting Tillman’s huge popularity in Arizona. “Thousands and thousands of professional athletes and he’s the only one that left and basically made the ultimate sacrifice for what he felt is right. That’s a pretty amazing thing that he wanted to do.”
LaBarbera will donate $420 (Tillman wore number 42) for every win he gets to the Pat Tillman foundation, which helps the families of soldiers who have fought for their country. But the Phoenix goaltender stressed that his mask is meant to honour all soldiers, in both the United States and his native Canada, pointing out both flags are represented on his new lid.
“It’s just more a respect thing and not just for him, but for all the troops that go overseas and fight over there,” said LaBarbera. “They honor them at games and stuff but I just never feel like the troops ever get enough respect when they get back and I can’t imagine how difficult it is going over there, and then coming back to a normal life again. So it’s for everybody, all those men and women that go over and put their lives on the line for everybody else. It’s the ultimate thing and I think we should all give more respect to them.”