Casino Night
January 10, 2010


Each year, the Thrashers hold a Casino Night, which is the largest fundraiser for their charity, the Thrashers Foundation. It's $200 per person to get in the door ($150 for season ticket holders) and those proceeds go to the cause. In addition to your entry fee, they also have both silent and live auctions for various items. Those proceeds go to the cause as well. They typically raise about $140,000 by the time it's all said and done. It's for a good cause, and it's tax deductible, of course.

So, what do you get for your $150? Well, free food and booze, duh! But no really, the absolute coolest thing - you get to play black jack and roulette with the Thrashers players as your dealers. Unrestricted access to the boys for four hours of fun. What's great is that it isn't awkward, because you're playing games, so there's already an ice breaker. You just dive right in and get acquainted.

Lucky for me, my e-bud Virginia invited me to join her for the evening and make it our "Girls' Night Out." That sounded like a great plan, and it got Travis off the hook. My god, we had a blast! Those four hours felt like about 15 minutes! I swear, I was just getting settled in good when the tables were closing. I will most definitely be doing this again. It was great! I just hate that I have to wait a whole year for it to happen again.

The event was held at the Opera Nightclub in downtown Atlanta. It was so neat because you were literally shoulder to shoulder with the players (or, in my case, shoulder to tummy, lol). It was as if you were just there partying with them. We walked in the front door at the same time as Eric Boulton. We got drinks at the bar with Boulton, Hainsey, Thorburn, and Lehtonen. They were all super friendly and in great moods. It was tons of fun.

At the front door, you exchange your ticket for a program and $1,500 worth of "Thrash Cash."

Here's the inside of the program.

Here I am, just before I left the house.

The full package.

Once we got in the door, we scoped out the various rooms and tables. They had the silent auction items set up in one of the hallways.

The wives and girlfriends put together these baskets that include all kinds of cool stuff. Each basket had a list next to it of what was included.

Kovy's basket.

The baskets typically included autographed items, small gadgets and electronics, and a few other tidbits from the player's life outside of hockey. For instance, Kubina's had a soccer ball and Little's had some tennis stuff.

The players were mostly hanging out in the upstairs VIP section before the event began. Here, Hainsey strikes a pose for me. You can also see Bogosian and Thorburn on the left.

The club is very pretty and elegant.

This signed picture of Lehtonen and Enstrom was up for auction. I have no idea where I'd put something that big, so I just took a picture. There was this gigantic picture of Hainsey up for grabs too. We teased him about it later.

They announced the players one by one, but I'll save you the agony of flipping through all those and just cut to the chase. Players, part one.

Players, part two. Yes, some of these repeat.

Players, part three. Pay attention, Schubert!

Players, part four.

Alright, game on. We wandered around a bit before we finally settled in at a table. Ron Hainsey gets the party started.

You know it wasn't long before I found Kari's table.

One more pic, with the flash. I was having wine, Kari was having beer.

Ondrej Pavelec had one of the few roulette tables. I was intimidated by it. I'm not much of a gambler. Except with my photos, apparently. I tried to go without flash, but as you can see, that didn't always pay off.

Zach Bogosian already had the ladies piled up around his table.

Rich Peverley. This was his first event as a Thrasher last year. I'm sure he was more comfortable this year.

Each player has a real dealer with them to assist as they go along. Zach looks like he needs a little help here.

Slava Kozlov. I think he's almost smiling!

Colby Armstrong.

Mark Popovic.

Johan "Moose" Hedberg had people camping out at his table before he even arrived! There are some crazy Moose lovers out there.

At the end of the night, Virginia and I both realized that we never saw Ilya Kovalchuk after the introductions. We figured he was just upstairs with the VIPs. But look - you can clearly see him in the background here. Fail!

Toby Enstrom.

Nik Antropov. The entire front room was very dark, and Nik's table was the worst. Next time, I'll just go ahead and use the flash.

Another non-flash failure. It's too bad, cause this pic would have been cool. Thrash is awesome.

Todd White, dealing some cards.

Again with the really dark front room. All things considered, the lens did pretty good.

Back to the white room, as I'll call it. Marty Reasoner's table.

I think this is a cute picture. He looks a little flirty, doesn't he?

Our ginger German, Christoph Schubert.

Catching another glimpse of Kari Lehtonen.

More Schubi action.

Pavel Kubina gets some help from his dealer.

Anssi Salmela seemed to be enjoying himself.

One heck of a blurry pic of Boris Valabik. It's the only one I have, though. He smiled at me just after I took it.

Evander Kane.

Jim Slater had his table rockin'! They were seriously raising hell over there. It was too crowded for me to squeeze in, and it was roulette, so I was scared. Not next year, though. I'm jumping right in.

Another shot of Evander Kane. But if you're like most of us, all you see in this pic is cleavage.

More crowdedness around Bogosian.

Armstrong again.

We finally settled down for a few rounds of blackjack at Nik Antropov's table. His dealer was cool and got a picture of him with us. He played with us for a few hands too. I've never played before, so he helped me out a bit. Super cool guy. This is also my only pic with Virginia, on the right there.

Chris Thorburn. Also a super nice guy. He greeted us at the bar before we even got a chance to say anything.

Another blurry picture of one fine lookin' Czech, Ondrej Pavelec.

Bryan Little was sequestered to the VIP section.

More Kari. I can't wait to see how he's going to do when he gets back on the ice. He said about two weeks or so. We'll see!

Toward the end of the night, we played a few rounds with his dealer. They closed the tables right after that, so Kari never came back. I never got to play with him. *pout*

Schubert makes it dramatic.

"Are you sure you want to hit?"

Kari and Schubi were right next to each other.

Back to the other room for a bit. Peverley is still working hard.

Kozlov, looking as classy as ever.

Me with Evander Kane. When asked if that was a root beer he was holding, he said, "Umm... Yeah!" Uh huh.

Fine. We decided to start using the flash. Here's me and Thorburn. Note the cut above his eye. I love hockey players.

Our next stop was Toby Enstrom's table. He was nice, but not as generous as Antropov.

Some guy next to me offered to take a picture of us. Of course I wanted to. Trouble is, it focused on the people behind us. Whatever, I'm still putting it in here, cause Toby's the only one that doesn't tower over me.

Todd White, conversing with a guest at the bar.

Me and the Moose. Note the growing value of my chips. The green ones were $100, the red $500. I started off with five green and two red. Now look at me! Vegas, here I come!

Schubert, dancing around to the music. I should have scoped out a spot at his table. He seemed like fun.

I almost forgot about Max!

More Max Afinogenov.

Armstrong. They started shutting down tables at this point and cashing out chips for tickets.

Pic of the night! Haha! This is Bogosian (after a few drinks, certainly) saying "Whoa! It's picture time!"

This is when I told him to shut up and take the darn picture. He and Armstrong were having a blast. Now I definitely wish I'd sat with him too.

Peverley, taking a few last minute bets. He was right next to Bogosian and Armstrong.

Bogosian consults with his dealer. Look at her just taking in his beauty.

Speaking of said beauty, check this out! Holy awesome picture, Bat Man!

And even more beauty! I can't stand it! Dammit, Ondrej, you is fine! (Oh yeah, and note my fistful of red chips at this point.)

I am the playa pimp! Both Bogosian and Armstrong! Holla!

Got to grab me some Schubert action. I have now exchanged chips for tickets, which were entered into a raffle. I didn't win anything, but I did turn $1,500 into $10,000 by the end of the night.

Jim Slater was still raising hell, but posed for this picture. You can see us both smiling a little harder than usual.

By the end of the night, it was clear that Anssi Salmela was smashed.

Super cutie Mark Popovic.

Thrash beckons to someone from across the room.

At the end of the night, they held the live auction. Ryan Boulton here offered a hunting excursion with the Boultons. They also auctioned off that bench there, but it's kind of washed out in the pics. Lastly, they auctioned a road trip with the team. It went for about $12,000. So jealous! And there's that giant picture of Hainsey. Who could miss that?

Thrash closed out the night from the VIP section. Wow, what a blast! I can't wait for next time!