Caps Care Casino Night Makes an Impression

Posted February 17, 2012

Brooks Laich learns the basics of blackjack at the annual Caps Care Casino Night and Auction. Don't quit your day/night/weekend job, Brooks. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals)

It’s been almost a week since the Caps’ annual Caps Care Casino Night and Auction, and while I’ll be honest and tell you I’ve been too busy to write about it, I’ll also be honest in telling you that the further removed I get from the event, the more fondly I feel about it. I have a few goodies coming up over the next day or so (some surprising auction items like a signed Crosby jersey, and a few notes and quotes from your favorite players as they sat around gambling fake money and schmoozing with fans), but I want to take a few words today to recognize how impressive and successful this event was.

This year marked the third-annual event, hosted last Friday night at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. Over 600 fans turned out for the sold out event, playing casino games to earn raffle tickets, snacking, dancing, and participating in live and silent auctions, with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Love for Lokomotiv, and Washington Capitals Charities. And while the fundraising totals for the first two years ($287,721 and $304,900) are impressive, this year’s record $353,851 is simply stunning.

But while the fundraising total is enough to sell even the most skeptical fans on the value of this event, what really made it special for me was the sense of community I felt. The event fell just one day after the Caps’ 2-0 lead against Tampa Bay melted away and ended in a shootout loss, but fans and players alike seemed upbeat, choosing instead to focus on how lucky we all are to be a part of the Caps community. Fans reminisced about past seasons and debated the merits of sitting in different sections at Verizon Center, but talked little about the Caps’ current struggles or the upcoming trade deadline. I wouldn’t say either of those things hung over the event at all – this was about the bigger picture.

And the bigger picture looked like this: Caps players introduced by Joe Beninati (in some startlingly red shoes – more on that later), then send off to wander the event as they pleased. For a group of guys with such a busy schedule, it was refreshing to see them not in a rush to get anywhere, instead settling down at a blackjack table, chatting with fans at the bar, or checking out the silent auction. The evening ended with a live auction, including items like a cooking lesson with Mike Green, Tomas Vokoun and Top Chef All-Star Spike Mendelsohn (went for $11,500) and a “Legends Dinner” with Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, Dale Hunter and Rod Langway (went for $19,500).

This event had a hefty price tag – tickets started at $250, with $425 VIP tickets including entry to an hour-long reception wit the Caps at the beginning of the night. Still, the cause is great, the sense of community can’t be beat, and for fans who value an opportunity to mingle with fellow fans and favorite players in a comfortable and enjoyable setting, it is well worth getting a ticket.