McKenna honors late Pantera guitarist on new Stars mask
Mike McKenna staying with his traditional racing-inspired, team-based theme for the front of his new Dallas Stars mask but the self-described Metal head honoured the team’s connection to late Pantera guitarist Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott on the backplate of his new Warwick mask.
“The backplate is where I like to have some fun. I’ve had a nameless character on it since I was playing college hockey at St. Lawrence. A few years ago my friend Jason McMahan started drawing him in character: he was a cowboy in Arizona, a beach bum in Florida, and Thor for Tampa,” McKenna told InGoal. “But this year he’s really special. It’s pretty well known in hockey circles that when the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, they were tight with heavy metal band Pantera, especially brothers Vinnie Paul and Darrell Abbott. They even wrote a pump-up song for the team that is still in heavy rotation at the games today. Tragically, Darrell was murdered on stage while performing in 2004. I was – and am – a huge fan of Pantera, especially Darrell’s guitar work. So this year’s backplate pays tribute to a music legend and one of the greatest guitarists to ever grace this earth: Darrell Abbott. RIP Dime.”
Painted by McKenna’s long-time person artist, Ray Bishop, of Bishop Custom Designs, McKenna’s new backplate celebrates a strong bond between the Stars and Pantera that not all may be aware of.
“The Stars and legendary heavy metal band Pantera go hand in hand,” Brian Slagel, Chairman and CEO of Metal Blade Records, wrote in an email to InGoal. “Pantera is proudly from Dallas and are huge hockey fans. So much so they had season tickets, hung with the players, hosted a Stanley Cup party and wrote the Stars entry song! Dime and Vinnie were always big Stars and hockey fans. I was so pumped the first time I heard the song when the Stars came out to start the game. Imagine an original song by Pantera!! So cool and made the Stars a favorite among the metal community. Dime was one of the most influential and talented guitarists ever in any genre. Also one of the nicest guys ever!”
Complete with a crowd at his feet and stage lights above, as well as McKenna’s personal logo and trademark flags, the backplate tribute to Abbott blends seamlessly with the rest of the mask:
“Mike had a friend of his, who usually draws up something for his back plate, draw up a “DimeBag” character that I then re-interpreted and painted for him,” Bishop told InGoal. “I decided a rock legend needs a stage, so I adlibbed a crowd of fans, stage, and lights to give him a home on the back.”
The front of the mask is a continuation of what Bishop called a “Racing Style” format for McKenna.
“We’re very much on the same page: at this point I just have to tell him what team and let him go to work,” said McKenna, who has done five masks with Bishop. “I like my masks to have a lineage to them, so the basic design hasn’t changed much over the years. A lot of that comes from my racing background: open-wheel drivers usually stick to one identifiable design over their careers. The same used to be true for goalies: the heros of my childhood (Brodeur, Joseph, Belfour, etc) all had iconic masks and there was no mistaking who was in net.”
“We continued with the evolution of his ‘Racing Style’ format, with a combo of bold and faded striping with some pearled and ghosted effects, and sparkled goodies mixed into it as well,” Bishop said.
The mask itself is a Warwick, another staple throughout McKenna’s career.
“Gary Sr. met Mike in Port Huron, Michigan at the Silver Stick Hockey Tournament and Mike got his first Warwick Mask when he was 15-years old playing for the St Louis Amateur Blues AAA 1998-99 team then used the mask two more years while he played for the Springfield Jr. Blues hockey team,” said Gary Warwick Jr. “We are proud that he wears our mask.”
For more great art and masks, check out Bishop’s website, and be sure to follow his social media feeds on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and look for more new masks here in the coming days and weeks.