By Steven Ellis
Music and sports have always gone hand in hand, whether it's a song that pumps up fans before a game or a victory anthem that celebrates a major achievement. Hockey teams have often taken advantage of the opportunity to express themselves through music, from goalies displaying their favorite musicians on their head to teams getting creative with the uniforms they wear during an actual game.
Recently, the SPHL's Quad City Storm made headlines after announcing "KISS Night," honoring the rock band by wearing special one-off jerseys against the Evansville Thunderbolts on March 9. KISS will make what is expected to be their final performance ever in Quad City as part of their End of the Road Tour the following night, and with members of the band being hockey fans, it's not a bad way to say goodbye.
The Storm aren't the first team to mix art and hockey together. In fact, they're not even the first team to do a KISS-themed event. Let's take a look at some of the coolest hockey-music crossovers in recent history:
HUNTSVILLE HAVOC/READING ROYALS - KISS
The Storm aren't the only team to wear Kiss-themed jerseys for a minor-league game. The SPHL's Huntsville Havoc wore this sweater against the Louisiana Gators on Jan. 29, 2016, with the Havoc coming out with the 6-1 loss. The ECHL's Reading Royals also wore a similar uniform in 2016 for its Night of Hope event, raising money for a local homeless shelter by auctioning the jerseys off after the game.
GREEN BAY GAMBLERS - IRON MAIDEN
The Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL are no strangers to having unique theme nights, especially when it involves promoting beer. Last week, the Gamblers hosted the Central Illinois Flying Aces for Heavy Metal Night, wearing Iron Maiden-themed uniforms in a losing effort. At least the jerseys look sweet, though, and the parental advisory on the shoulders is a nice touch. Chris Mason is probably smiling somewhere right now.
ROB ZEPP - LED ZEPPELIN
When your last name is Zepp, the musical tie-in is an easy one. His NHL career may have lasted just 10 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014-15, but Zepp's mask was popular due to his usage of the band's font for his name on the chin of the mask, as well as an illustration of the hermit from the album Led Zeppelin IV.
JASON LABARBERA - METALLICA
LaBarbara had a couple of music-related masks during his career, but the one he wore during his time with the L.A. Kings, and later the Vancouver Canucks after a trade, was a work of art. The mask features James Hetfield singing at the top of his lungs with lead guitarist Kirk Hammett playing at his side and the Death Magnetic album logo at the top. A previous mask of LaBarbara's showcased various album artworks from the band's discography, and he has also had illustrations of Slash and Angus Young on other helmets, too.
RYAN MILLER - SLASH/KURT COBAIN
It's hard to not have a music-related mask when you tend the crease for the St. Louis Blues, but Ryan Miller went all-out during his tenure with the club, featuring two legendary musicians. The right side of his helmet featured the orange "First Standard" 1958 Gibson Les Paul of iconic Guns N' Roses shredmaster Slash, while the left side pays homage to late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain with a white Fender Stratocaster. Even though Miller's tenure with the Blues lasted for just 19 regular-season games in 2014, his mask is still memorable five seasons later.
ONDREJ PAVELEC - BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Former Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec had a few Bruce Springsteen-inspired buckets during his career, but this Dave Gunnarson creation was a staple during his later years with the team. The helmet features various shots of Springsteen, including a photo of one of The Boss' most prolific albums, Born to Run.