Dominic Moore (photo courtesy of the NHLPA)
The fifth installment of the annual ping pong tournament featured Aaron Ekblad, Chris Kreider, Jeff Skinner and many more NHLers. And while raising funds to combat rare cancers and concussions was the main goal, having a good time was right up there.
Dominic Moore's Smashfest charity event celebrated its fifth installment Thursday night in Toronto and the veteran center couldn't have been happier with how things have grown since the first year.
Built around a ping-pong tournament, Smashfest raises money and awareness for two causes close to Moore's heart: rare cancers and concussions. His wife, Katie, died of liver cancer in 2013, while concussions have affected both him and his brothers, Steve and Mark Moore. Smashfest has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over its five years, with one of the latest projects being a "Forced Exercise Study" at the University of Toronto's Concussion Clinic.
“Rare cancers are very important – any help that can go that way is fantastic," said Hall of Famer Eric Lindros. "And with concussions, we have to stay on top of things. We have to come up with solutions. We need to be sending in money for research, because research will give us a tangible recourse for these situations.”
Lindros was one of many stars in attendance this year, joined by names such as Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett and Chris Kreider. The fact that Dominic Moore is the one behind the event helps attract talent.
“I’m just happy to be here supporting Dom," said new Ottawa center Derick Brassard. "He’s been one of my best teammates I had in my time in New York, so I’m happy to be here to support the cause.”
Some attendees even got to play doubles ping pong with the players, while a silent auction also helped raise funds. And while raising money and awareness is the cause, it's not the only goal.
“It starts with causes, with trying to make an impact," Moore said. "But when you’re here, you’re having fun and that’s our mission.”
Indeed, Smashfest has always been a party atmosphere and the players are pretty loose – it's the middle of the summer, the event is held in downtown Toronto, and they're playing ping pong – something most hockey players love to do anyway.
“Ping pong is a huge part of locker room culture," Moore said. "We thought, man, this would be the perfect event theme to bring the players’ personalities out. And it’s social. Everyone can play and everyone can enjoy it.”
But there's also a competitive fire that cannot be doused. There can be only one winner and for the second straight year, it was Dallas' Patrick Eaves (rocking an impressive beard). And yeah, a lot of the guys do care about the final score.
“That’s one of the things that has grown," Moore said. "More guys are in it to win it. I think five guys brought their own custom paddles this year. We love that intensity and competition.”