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LaBarbera's New Mask Honors Tillman, Troops

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE – Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera will be wearing a new mask in the 2011-12 season. Its design is a tribute to Pat Tillman and service members everywhere fighting to defend democracy.

Tillman, of course, played football for Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals. He left his pro career and enlisted in the United States Army in June 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in April of 2004.

Photo by David Arrigo.
"Pat Tillman is an icon in Arizona and all over the country," LaBarbera said. "I followed his story of joining the Army and was amazed by what he did. It's amazing that he stopped doing what he worked his whole life for (to join the military)."

The mask was designed by David Arrigo, the same Toronto-based artist who designed Coyotes goalie Mike Smith’s new mask for 2011-12.

“'Barbs’ came to me a couple months back and stated that he wanted to change up his usual genre (of musicians and/or wrestlers) on the mask and go with more of a military tribute,” Arrigo said. “He really piqued my interest when he requested that I do a specific design of Pat Tillman on one of the sides.”

Jason LaBarbera
The left side of the mask features images of Tillman's face, Tillman playing football and Tillman hugging his brother Kevin, also a soldier. The right side of the mask features an image of a soldier and a military aircraft. On the front of the mask is a yellow ribbon that stands as a symbol for all service members defending democracy, past and present.

The mask also features a nifty camouflage pattern in Coyotes' colors, and is sprinkled with American stars and Canadian leafs.

Arrigo said it took him six days to paint the intricate mask, but it was well worth the effort.

“I thought this was a very cool thing for him to do,” Arrigo said. “…I just love the fact that we did this. We’re both very passionate about supporting the soldiers, and I thought this would be a great way to put a face to the everyday solider.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to see more photos of LaBarbera's mask.
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