Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On the Beat with Jason LaBarbera of the Rockford IceHogs

At the recent Rockford IceHogs game that we attended, the winning goalie was Jason LaBarbera.  He allowed 2 goals while making 33 saves.  I think his defense let him down a bit on at least one of those goals, but you won't hear him complain.
I love players like LaBarbera.  He was the 66th overall pick by the New York Rangers in the 1988 NHL draft.  Since then, he has played in 182 games in parts of 10 seasons in the NHL with the Rangers, the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks, the Phoenix Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers.  He is now property of the Chicago Blackhawks and was called up earlier this season, although he did not appear in any games.  At 34, LaBarbera understands his role as a backup NHL goalie and a team leader for the IceHogs.
I wanted to interview him because of his fine game, but also for a completely different reason.  I had seen pictures of LaBarbera's various goalie masks, many of which were wrestling-themed.
When the media session began, the other reporters took care of the game questions.  When they were done, I chimed in with my question about his mask featuring the Ultimate Warrior.  This was especially timely, considering that the Warrior is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April.
LaBarbera seemed to genuinely enjoy talking about his masks and wrestling.  He knew about the Warrior's upcoming induction.  Obviously, he still follows wrestling.
Of course, now I want to talk to LaBarbera again.  Knowing he is receptive to a bit of wrestling discussion, maybe I can get him to give me some predictions or at least some of his favorite wrestlers growing up and now.  It's always interesting to talk off-topic to celebrities.
Obviously, LaBarbera's future with the Hawks is questionable.  Perhaps they will bring him up as a veteran leader in goal.  He is still young enough to have several good years.  I like seeing him in Rockford, but maybe another team might come calling.  Either way, I wish LaBarbera the best of luck.  He is a class act.
Hopefully, LaBarbera will be in net as the IceHogs progress through the playoffs.  I plan on attending more games and I will certainly be cheering for LaBarbera a bit more now!
There are a handful of regular season games left for the IeHogs.  I encourage everyone to take the drive and see some great hockey action.  You will come away as impressed with the organization as I am!

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