Each year, the New York Rangers throws a benefit for the Garden of Dreams Foundation which allows the players and fans to interact in a mock casino setting. All of the proceeds go to the Garden of Dreams, so the steep price tag goes for a great cause. After buying the ticket as a generous birthday gift to myself, I only hoped it would live up to my expectations. Fun fact: it did.
A lot of the experience is exactly what you’d expect – upon arrival, you’re handed a cup with a voucher for chips, introduced to items for auction, introduced to the team, introduced to the bar, and sent off on your own way. You’re given the option to mingle with the team, alumni, NYR staff, and MSG staff, as well as fellow fans. The players set up at table games – some dealing, some playing – and are extremely approachable for photos and conversation.
Since it would be unfair to give you a detailed minute by minute breakdown of the night – things do get hazy when you’re drinking wine — instead I’ll just give out random awards to pieces of the night with some wonderful iphone photography sprinkled in.
Venue: Gotham Hall – A-
The ease of getting both in and out of the event, as well as space to move around was great. There wasn’t too much seating but, let’s be honest, most people weren’t there to sit. The rotunda shape gave the venue a more intimate feel.
The New York Rangers event planning and staff did an incredible job not only setting this up, but making sure that each client was happy throughout. There were several times you could look over and see a representative available should you have questions or need anything. Sam Rosen was there to announce the team and speak with fans, and he was as pleasant as you could imagine.
The team: varied grades
The team as a whole did a great job. There were only a couple of players that were hard to access, and they weren’t players I was particularly looking for. They situated in the same area for most of the night, so if you saw Kreider dealing blackjack towards the back of the venue, chances are he was still there dealing later on. The most approachable that I met were McDonagh, Callahan, D. Moore and Stralman, and that was mostly cause of where they were.
– Derek Stepan showing photos of his newly adopted Sochi stray shortly after turning the camera on the cameraman working the event (he’s as goofy as he seems).
– Benoit Pouliot being gracious enough to FaceTime with a friend who couldn’t make it.
– Anton Stralmann on how to hipcheck: “You just have to have a big [butt]”
– Playing blackjack immediately alongside Olympians (how many medals were in that room…)
Could’ve been better…:
– Meeting Henrik Lundqvist didn’t happen. The only time I even saw him was either on stage or flanked by security
By the end of the night, I was so happy to have met so many people and openly fangirl a bit. If you’ve got some money to justify spending on a charity, I highly recommend going in the years to come. Feel free to check out more photos from the event on the upcoming BSB Instagram feed.