By Matt Cosman
Players put down the sticks and picked up the paddles Thursday, as host Dominic Moore and a handful of other NHLers came together for a night of ping-pong at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto to raise money and awareness for two causes that have greatly affected Moore’s life.
This year’s Smashfest raised $140,000 for concussions and cancer research. That’s in addition to the $100,000 raised at last year’s event.
“Rare cancers are definitely underrepresented in terms of funding,” said Moore. “And concussions – there’s so much room to go in terms of understanding how they work, and treatments and awareness.”
Fans had the opportunity to interact with players, while some were lucky enough to play alongside an NHLer in the doubles tournament.
Money raised goes toward The Katie Moore Foundation for rare cancers and The Steve Moore Foundation, dedicated to Dominic’s brother Steve, who suffered a career-ending concussion in March 2004. Dominic’s wife, Katie, passed away last year from a rare form of liver cancer.
“Dominic has been a great example for perseverance and the way he handles tough things in his personal life,” said defending Smashfest champion Stephane Veilleux. “All credit to him, and we’re there to support him as well.”
Moore’s Rangers were the most represented team at the event, as they had four players participating in the tournament.
Coming off their Stanley Cup final appearance, the Rangers have only had a few weeks of personal time before getting back into training.
“With the short summer, we’re a couple months behind most people,“ said defenseman Kevin Klein. “You’ve just got to make sure you watch your body, take care of it so that you’re not too run down.”
And what better way to do that than bringing a fun dressing room tradition to the public? Ping-pong tables have become standard in the lives of NHL players. While Moore said some are intense about the game, they come together at Smashfest with the good in mind.
“As fun as it is, it’s all for a good cause – it’s just kind of a win-win on all fronts,” he said. “It’s social, it’s interactive, and everyone comes away having a great time.”
Some of the other players in attendance included Tyler Seguin, Logan Couture, David Clarkson and Jeff Skinner.
The Smashfest final came down to Alexandre Burrows and Veilleux, with Veilleux taking home the trophy again.
Amidst the paddle battles and player interaction, fans were able to participate in a silent auction that featured a game-worn Olympic Team Sweden Carl Hagelin jersey, and an autographed Phil Kessel stick.
“In just our third year, to see it grow the way it has and to see the excitement around it,” said Moore, “it’s amazing to see what this event has become.”
Here are some other photos from the event, all courtesy of the NHLPA: