With Former NHL Goalie, Jason LaBarbera
Music is such an important part of anybody’s life. For athletes, it helps with preparation and being focused. Especially for a goalie. It’s essential to find your happy place. Music got me to focus on what I needed to do that day on the ice.
Metallica was it for me. When I first listened to them at 13 years old, everything changed. I was hooked from then on. Whether it was driving to the rink or waking up from a nap and listening to the same song before every game to even now, although I am not playing any more, I hear their songs and it just puts me in a good frame of mind. I’ve always had some form of Metallica on all my goalie masks. That’s a great thing about being a goalie. You get to be creative and show a little bit of your personality. You don’t get to see a ton of that in hockey. Being a goalie, you have chance to do that with your mask.
A lot of thought went into what I wanted on each mask. The process was to collaborate with the artist, tell them the idea and let them run with it.
I always loved the St. Anger fist. I just loved the artwork, what it looked like and what it represented. It’s been on every mask of mine since 2003. I also had the Death Magnetic cover on my mask, the Master of Puppets album and the band members — both as cartoon characters and regular looking guys. No matter what was featured on my mask, there was always some representation of Metallica within it as well.
Favorite Metallica song: “Bleeding Me,” or “The Outlaw Torn” remind me of playing. I always listened to those songs pre-game, laying on the floor, getting in the zone.
Pearl Jam / Eddie Vedder mask:
When I was first introduced to Pearl Jam, I instantly gravitated towards it. Anytime you hear a Pearl Jam song it puts you in a good mood. Still today, it makes me reminisce about things that have happened in my life that really mattered. I had a lot of Metallica masks and wanted to switch it up. Eddie Vedder was the artist I wanted next because I think so highly of him and really love Pearl Jam.
Favorite Pearl Jam song: “Alive”
My four favorite bands are Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Pearl Jam and ACDC. This mask was based off a similar idea. ACDC really reminds me of when I was younger. Their music was always synonymous with a great time. Music always puts me in a good place, but ACDC in particular because of how much they bring me back. I have been able to see them live a few times and was blown away each time.
Favorite ACDC song: “Back in Black”
I’ve had Slash and Guns n’ Roses on my masks before. I’m also a huge wrestling fan and have had a bunch of wrestlers such as the Rock and Ultimate Warrior on their too. The Pat Tillman mask from Arizona was another special one. Playing there, his story was so important. He’s a big deal in the area and his story really resonated with me. It was a cool thing to do. I got to meet his wife and his family. It brought some awareness to what Pat stood for. Anytime you can honor someone like that is pretty special.
My masks now:
I still have all my masks. They are all in my basement on shelves. I’m only missing two from my career that somehow got lost along the way. Over the years, I also collected jerseys of guys that I played with and got them to sign them. So I have framed jerseys and all my masks on display. If I’m in my basement watching TV or watching a Blue Jays game, it’s always cool to look at them. Now that I’m retired, it reminds of the specific year I had with that mask and the team I was on. You don’t have a lot of time to do that when you are playing, so now it really brings back good memories — thinking about things you did and that you should be proud of.
Check out Jason & Kodette LaBarbera’s incredible work on Autism awareness here:
Jason LaBarbera goalie mask art by: David Arrigo
Our “Art in the NHL” series part 1: How I Paint NHL Goalie Masks — w/ artist, Frank Cipra:
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~Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra