Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | November 22, 2011

Man of the Day 11/22: Jason LaBarbera

Antonio Jason LaBarbera

Born January 18, 1980 (age 31) in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Goaltender for the Phoenix Coyotes

LaBarbera did something notable in a game against Washington that we’ll talk about later. Let’s get to know him first. He played with the Portland Winter Hawks for four seasons and also played for the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs before being drafted in 1998 by the New York Rangers, 66th overall. Being picked by the blueshirts gave him a chance to play in relief of his childhood hero Kirk McLean, which must’ve been quite a treat. For the most part, though, he spent his first four years in the Rangers organization with the Charlotte Checkers (under their umbrella at the time) and the Hartford Wolf Pack. In 2003-04, while he was having a great season with Hartford, he was called up to the big city again and played four games. In the year that never was, he stayed with Hartford and won the award for the goalie with the fewest goals allowed. New York did not re-sign him, though, and he signed with Los Angeles as a free agent. On the West Coast, he backed up Mathieu Garon and had a great start, netting seven wins in his first seven starts and a 4-0 shutout of San Jose.

This year, his mask has a tribute to Pat Tillman on it. That's very touching.

However, for 2006-07, he played in LA’s AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs. LA worried about calling him up because he was waiver eligible and they feared another team would claim him, so he enjoyed another great season in the AHL and re-signed with LA for two years. The following year saw him get more play time, although in December 2008 he was traded to Vancouver for a draft pick. Vancouver needed him because of injuries to both their goalies and he fit in well, netting a win in his first effort as a Canuck. In July 2009 he signed with Phoenix for two years to back up Ilya Bryzgalov. Those two years saw him get a 15-11-4 record, not bad! Since Bryzgalov was traded to Philadelphia, Phoenix needed LaBarbera more than ever, so he re-upped with the Coyotes this past offseason.

Last season he played 17 games, getting a 7-6-3 record with two shutouts, a .909% and a 3.26 GAA. This year he’s played in 4 games with a 1-3 record, an .893% and a 3.28 GAA although the season is young yet. In his most recent game, at Washington, a single solitary red balloon that didn’t appear to have a string hovered above the play area. A few Capitals swatted at it, but it stayed there, so during the setup of a faceoff, LaBarbera poked at it with his stick. This earned him a smattering of disapproval from the Verizon Center audience, but I thought it was hilarious.

99 red balloons go by...


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