Although games officially began again on Tuesday evening after the NHL All-Star weekend, the Canucks took one more day to rest after the league break. Hosting the 17th annual Dice & Ice benefit at the Fairmont Hotel, the full hockey team, their management, and other notable personalities gave up their evening to help raise money for the Canucks for Kids Fund.
Dedicated to assisting charities that support children’s health and wellness, grassroots hockey, and education in B.C., the Canucks for Kids Fund is a cause that is important to the players. Manning casino tables and dealing cards to the guests in honour of the grant organization, the players were vocal about the impact they hoped the evening would have.
“It’s huge for our team to interact with the community, our sponsorship, and give back to the people who support us,” defenceman Troy Stetcher told the Straight at the Dice & Ice reception. “I understand the circumstances [around the Canucks for Kids Fund], being from Vancouver, so it’s a good opportunity for me to interact with some fans and maybe see some people I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Erik Gudbranson, who was in charge of roulette with Luca Sbisa, was similarly positive.
“It’s a great foundation,” he said, resting a hand on the table. “Anything that reaches out and does stuff for the youth of a town or a city is something that every single one of my teammates, and anybody that I’ve really ever met, is excited to take part in. An event like this tonight just goes to show what kind of a first-class organization this is, and what first-class people there are in this city for coming out and supporting us. We’re very excited to be here.”
The evening was, however, primarily about fun and games. Alongside a huge collection of blackjack tables staffed by younger Canucks around the outside of the room, Russian defenceman Nikita Tryamkin expertly managed a second roulette wheel near the entrance with Alex Biega, while Derek Dorsett kept a watchful eye on the wine wall. In-demand All-Star Bo Horvat stood on stage to saber corks out of champagne bottles, and the Sedin twins took shifts at various Casino tables.
Centreman Michael Chaput was the first to suggest that his station was a great place to get lucky.
“I’m dealing blackjack,” he told the Straight. “Honestly, I’ve been losing a lot. They’ve cleaned me out pretty well, but I’m trying to make my money back now. I’m having a lot of fun, actually. It’s awesome to see so many people coming out here tonight, and giving back to the kids. It’s a great cause.”
Also playing cards was Ben Hutton, star of last year’s infamous rookie lip-sync battle. Despite stealing the show with his rendition of the Aqua classic “Barbie Girl”, the young defender was in the dark about the evening’s upcoming surprise entertainment for the team’s newcomers.
“Last year was pretty eventful for myself,” he said, standing in the lobby. “I just came out of nowhere and felt like dancing and moving the hips a little bit. I guess they liked it. I knew we had to do a lip-sync battle, so we all picked our song before. I didn’t realize that we had to bring costumes and stuff, like everyone else did, so I figured I had to pull something out of my hat. [This year] I don’t know what they have planned at all. They didn’t even tell the rookies.”
On the agenda for certain was some friendly banter from the Canucks, which Erik Gudbranson had been tasked to lead.
“Brandon [Sutter] and I are actually introducing the players at dinner,” he told the Straight. “We were told to create a little bit of a roast situation for our teammates, so we’ve been working on that this afternoon. I’m excited to see the reactions, so that’ll be fun. I’m a little too excited.”
With the team in high spirits, organizers hoped that the evening would match or beat the impressive $350,000 raised at last year’s Dice & Ice event.