...As a bonafide nerd. It's no secret around these parts that I'm always always on the lookout for the new standard in NHL haute couture, so maybe I'm just the pot calling the kettle a nerd. But after twenty-something years of playing hockey myself, getting geared up in new protective equipment is like taking your girlfriend to Victoria's Secret, then sitting next to the dressing rooms in the one, solitary, plastic chair. The Dude Chair, if you will. The women lean out of the dressing room doors with bra straps dangling, looking for their boyfriend so they can get the nod of approval. In many instances, he's usually the dude standing next to you holding a bag that a homeless woman would relish, but it's hundreds of dollars more because it's brown and has the letter 'G" all over it. The difference between myself and the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder crowd is simple: I don't buy my stuff because all my friends have it. Hockey players are all built differently, have different tastes, and have varied performance requirements from their ice armor.
Besides, some hockey players are smart enough to remember their girlfriends' silly fascination with Jelly Shoes some years back.
Now you know why your boyfriends cringe when you tell us which tie and shirt you think we should wear to that upcoming wedding, ladies. And no, your hips look sexy in that dress. And no, I'm not just saying that, so back off.
So anyways, back to the subject at hand. I've always felt kind of half-assed when talking pucks with my out of town friends, and they ask me to defend Jason LaBarbera's current Coyotes mask. Sure, the James Hettfield of Metallica and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam visages are pretty sweet, but the old WWF wrestler known as 'The Ultimate Warrior' on the forehead? Just thinking about my most common answer makes me snicker. Normally, all I have to say is ' Search Youtube one of his old interviews. The guy was nuts".
Don't believe me? See how long you can watch this without asking yourself 'What the hell is wrong with this guy"?
So already, all we can guess is that Labarbera was probably thinking about getting some sort of pee-in-your-pants-psycho vibe to make his mask look meaner. Annnnd this, is what he came up with:
If you ask me, it's Barry Melrose meets The Venture Brothers. But there's still the Metallica-styled lettering, some semblance of a Coyotes logo, and two pretty badass rock stars on his helmet. That should be good enough, right?
Of course not. Yesterday, across from Jobing.com Arena, the "Glendale Keg" ( University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the AZ Cardinals) hosted the largest event in 'sports-entertainment', Wrestlemania. People from all over the world ( stop laughing, I'm serious) descended into our little neck of the woods to watch sweaty men in spandex grab each others butts, all while yelling 'KILL HIM!' as if the outcome wasn't fixed. It's like men's figure skating, without Romanian judges, and decidedly more accepted amongst the PBR-drinkers of the world. And what does our little "Labarbarian" decide all Coyotes fans need to be subjected to? Why channel his inner dweeb, of course.
Ladies and gentlmen, I give you the monstrosity of the week:
( pictured: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon)
( 'Heartbreak Kid", Shawn Michaels on the left ear)
( The Undertaker, top left)
( Either a Coyote howling at the moon, or a melted fruit roll-up sitting atop an egg mcmuffin)
(Bret 'The Hitman" Hart's Hitman logo, chin.)
After seeing this wonderful display of "what-n-the-blue-hell-were-you-thinking", two thoughts immediately jumped to my mind. Well, three if you count the intial thought of "JASON LABARBERA'S A NEEERRRD!!"
1) The 'Hitman" logo on the chin is worn by Bret Hart. Bret Hart was around in the 80's when The Ultimate Warrior was around, so he's been around since I was a youngster. How old is that, you ask? So old that the junior WHL team in Calgary ( where he's from) was named after him in 1995. You guessed it, The Calgary Hitmen.
They even used his patented black/pink color scheme from his old wrasslin' days:
2) Haven't we seen this kind of blatant advertising before, in Tampa Bay? ( I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with 'HELL YES".)
When the movie "Saw V " came out Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner Oren Koules just happened to be the same person producing said horror flick. If you've ever seen any of these movies, you know they're gratuitous gore-fests with zero relation to hockey. But since Oren Koules of Tampa was a producer, Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzing's helmets were turned into on-ice billboards ( By choice? I dunno).
And Mike Smith's:
A big stink arose when these previous two masks debuted, and were shelved almost immediately. Still, I can understand that when the guy who signs your paychecks asks you for a favor, you'd probably happily oblige.
And that's where LaBarbera is different. He got his new mask painted like that because HE WANTED IT LIKE THAT. Meanwhile, hockey fans are left cringing, hoping this mask gets the 3-count ASAP. All the stars, planets, and Warriors in the cosmos won't help anyone understand what the hell he was thinking when he decided on that, so I suggest someone take his plane on a nosedive into parts unknown, where everyone breathes combat. Or something like that.