Like many National Hockey League goaltenders, Jason LaBarbera of the Phoenix Coyotes was in the market for a new mask design for the upcoming season. Previously, he had worn inventive color schemes that honored disparate muses like Metallica and pro wrestling. This year, he came to artist David Arrigo with a much different kind of inspiration:
LaBarbera wanted a mask that honored both the U.S. and Canadian Armed Forces serving overseas. More specifically, he wanted one side of the mask to honor the late Pat Tillman; the defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals who left the NFL to enlist in the U.S. Army with his brother after 9/11, and who was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan.
The mask depicts Tillman and his brother in military gear, along with an image of Pat Tillman as a member of the Cardinals, who like LaBarbera's Coyotes play in Glendale.
"I had read a book about Tillman prior to the request and had taken great interest in the story," said Arrigo, who...