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Blues Play Their Cards Right

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Brian Elliott isn’t much of a gambler, but with his good fortune of late, it couldn’t hurt to play his hand.

As it turns out, lady luck was still on his side Wednesday night.

“I was killing it on the blackjack table, so I don’t know if anyone would want to come back to play at my table,” he said. “Normally I’d be on the wrong end of it, so I was happy.”

Perhaps the unlucky part is that the money Elliott reeled in as a blackjack dealer on Wednesday wasn’t actually real cash. Instead, the All-Star goaltender walked away with plenty of Blues Bucks.

Elliott’s gambling was part of the Blues’ annual Casino Night, an event designed to raise real money for the Blues 14 Fund. Wednesday’s theme was the “Blues Barn Dance” and featured plenty of cowboy hats, cowboy boots, hay, wheelbarrows and even a mechanical bull. The evening also featured live music from local country band, Whiskey Dixon.

“I’m a big country fan, so for me, it’s great to see,” said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

Upon entering Scottrade Center, guests were given $5,000 Blues Bucks to gamble with over the course of the night. After dinner, some stand-up comedy and a live auction, attendees spent several hours playing casino-style games with Blues players as celebrity dealers. Afterwards, guests were able to cash in their winnings for raffle tickets to win prizes such as a Blues Penthouse Suite, a Blues autographed jersey, a team autographed stick and more.

“It’s great. I think it’s one of the best events of the year,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. “You come out here, you spend a few hours and get to know some people and it’s really a great cause.

“(I’m just) dealing and making sure everybody wins, so my table was very hot all night.”

The real winners on Wednesday, though, were the St. Louis area children that will benefit from the money raised during the event. The Blues 14 Fund was established in 1998 to honor former Blues forward Doug Wickenheiser, who passed away from a long battle with cancer in 1999. Since its inception, the Fund has contributed more than 2.5 million to youth in the St. Louis community, including cancer care, health and wellness, education and youth hockey development.

Blues legend Bob Plager knew Wickenheiser well and said he’d be smiling today knowing that so much charity work was being done in his name.

“I watched his career, and when he came in here, he was just one of the boys,” Plager said. “He was a great guy and he enjoyed life. It’s sad to see a guy that young leave us too soon. I watched his kids grow up (without him). It’s really something, but he would be smiling up there now.”

Items in the live auction included an autographed Team Alfredsson All-Star jersey donated by Elliott, a team autographed Blues guitar, a three-day trip to Salt Lake City and a trip on the team charter on several upcoming road trips, including Feb. 19 in Chicago.

Through ticket sales and live and silent auctions, the Blues Barn Dance raised $120,000 for charity.

“Like usual, this is really fun and one of the best nights of the year,” said forward David Perron. “It helps kids around St. Louis, and that’s the best thing. It’s just amazing to see the number of kids we can help with just the few dollars we put in there. Everyone has been helping a lot tonight.”

Added Pietrangelo, “Smiles from (the fans), smiles from the kids that this is all going to go to, it all relates to each other, and for us to do this, it’s not a big deal. Anytime we can make a difference in the community, we’re going to do it.”

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