At this point, Dominic Moore doesn’t have to tell his fellow NHL players what Smashfest is.
Moore’s annual charity ping-pong event has become so popular that the New York Rangers centre’s friends, teammates and opponents often bring it up to him.
“Throughout the year I’ll hear from guys: ‘Hey, I heard about your event. I heard it’s amazing. I’d love to come,”‘ Moore said. “Guys that have been talk to their teammates and talk to them about it. That’s really fun for me because I’m really glad when you get the feedback that guys had a great time.”
Moore still actively recruits to get players out to the event, which will have its fourth incarnation Thursday night at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. But Smashfest has also grown substantially in scale from 2012.
Three years ago, Smashfest raised over $30,000. That number increased to over $100,000 in 2013 and then $140,000 last year.
Even with ticket prices at $250 for unlimited food, an open bar and a chance to interact with players and $1,000 (U.S. or Canadian) for all that and entry into the doubles tournament, it’s a hopping party with plenty of demand.
“We feel like, even at that ticket price, it’s a great value when it’s all said and done,” Moore said in a recent phone interview. “I think the people that come are kind of like, ‘Wow, this is the best money I’ve spent in a long time.”‘
Players have enjoyed it so much that the list has grown longer by the year. This time, Moore is set to host 24 other players, including Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, Peter Holland of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jason Spezza of the Dallas Stars.
Former NHL star Eric Lindros is also slated to appear.
Back for another Smashfest are Tyler Seguin of the Stars, Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks, Michael Del Zotto of the Philadelphia Flyers, Derick Brassard and Kevin Klein of the New York Rangers and Cam Talbot of the Edmonton Oilers.
Proceeds continue to go to toward rare cancer and concussion research. Moore’s wife Katie died of a form of liver cancer, and brother Steve’s hockey career ended because of concussion problems.
Smashfest has grown into its own charitable brand, and one other change this time is Moore said a greater emphasis will be put on the ping-pong tournament itself. Rogers will stream at least the final match online.
“We want to make the title a little bit more of a crowning of an NHL champion,” Moore said. “That’ll be exciting, too, to bring in a little bit more of the competitive juices.”
Even though some cameras might be rolling, Moore doesn’t want anyone in attendance worrying about that.
“The event is mostly a party and it will continue to be that,” he said. “We want to continue to keep the atmosphere completely relaxed and for the players to feel totally comfortable, too.”