November 14, 2015 was Caps Casino Night which was designed to be fund-raiser for the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation for their charitable endeavors. This was the second time it was held at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington. The event included casino style games, including Black Jack, Craps, Roulette, and Poker. It also included a silent auction for hockey and other sports memorabilia, several raffle items, and a live auction of “Experiences”.
The event featured the chance to interact with most of the players and coaches of the Washington Capitals hockey team. There were plenty of hors d’oeuvres, which included chicken tenders atop a waffle like bread, a macaroni and cheese dish, and sushi. Beer, wine, champagne, and soft drinks were available from the bars. One of the players, Andre Burakovsky, rated the macaroni and cheese dish as “too cheesy”.
This was the first year where the Handbid application was being used for the silent auction items as opposed to the past convention of entering the price on a bidding sheet. The application was made available to Smart Phones. The personnel working the Casino “check in” desk helped out the guests with that application as they checked in.
John Walton was the Master of Ceremonies, as befitting his normal job of radio announcer. The Red Rockers were also in attendance. As usual for a Caps Casino Night, the players walked onto the stage of the ballroom and were introduced in numerical order by jersey. Following them were each of the coaches, with Coach Barry Trotz strolling across the stage last. The player introductions seemed almost like a graduation ceremony, complete with cheers, except for involving a lot less people. Once introductions were complete, the players scattered throughout the ballroom, generally sitting at the gambling tables and mingling with the crowds. The players signed numerous autographs and posed for pictures with the guests throughout the night. There was even one photo booth where fans could pose for silly pictures in front of a red background. Backstrom had posed with a couple of fans at that particular booth before the Live Auction. While Kuznetsov and Grubauer had posed with fans there once the Silent Auction was over. Kuznetsov even had put on a red mask for his photo there.
The Live Auction was where fans bid on a number of “experiences” which all involved Caps players. This year the items were: 1) Participate in Team Photo; 2) Win VIP Package for Fan Appreciation Day; 3) Attend Wizards Basketball Game with John Carlson and Brooks Orpik and have a group picture taken on the court after the game; 4) Golf with Jay Beagle, Michael Latta, Tom Wilson, and Nate Schmidt; 5) Capital Segway Tour with Nick Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Brooks Laich; 6) Caps Craft Bear Experience with Jason Chimera, Justin Williams, and Matt Niskanen; 7) Bowling with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov; 8) Cooking with Master Chef RJ Cooper and Caps players, Karl Alzner and TJ Oshie and their wives. The two items earning the highest bids, as in over $10,000 were the Golfing with Beagle, Latta, Wilson, and Nate Schmidt and the Bowling with Ovechkin, Orlov, and Kuznetsov. Ovi included an extra goodie with the package; a stick signed by himself. By the time the bidding was over, all three of the Russians included a signed stick as part of the package. Once the bidding was complete, Ovi and the other Russians walked over to the fan who had the winning bid and, presumably, signed the promised sticks. Incidentally, she also won the Cooking with Chef RJ Cooper, as well, showing that she was truly a high roller this year. The Live Auction was entertaining to watch, as usual, even for those fans whose budget could not allow for such high bids.
All in all, a great time was had by all. I had met and talked to several players and got pictures of some of them. Many fans got autographs, although I myself did not get any autographs tonight since the idea of schlepping memorabilia and trying to play casino games at the same time did not appeal to me.
Fore more photos from the event, check out MS&E’s gallery from last night.
By Diane Doyle